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Retailer takes interet in OE team

Written by Larry Bretts. Posted in Health & Wellness

Published on August 03, 2011 with No Comments

A specialty shoe retailer from Schererville has taken an interest in some amazing athletes in Valparaiso.

Fleet Feet Sports, of 635 E. U.S. 30, is donating new or “gently worn” walking shoes to members of the Opportunity Enterprises “Walking Buddies” team. The “Walking Buddies” are clients of OE who participate in the 5-K walk during the Popcorn Panic activities in Valparaiso’s Popcorn Festival.

This is not an endeavor with which to be trifled.

There are 19 members of the team, and each pair of shoes retails between $90 and $140, says Noelle Thomas, manager of the store. Thomas made the first of what probably will be two trips to Valparaiso, hauling several boxes of the shoes.

This visit was to assess the needs of the Buddies. “It’s what we have and what we need to have,” Thomas said.

Some team members were able to be easily fitted. They went back to the sheltered workshop with their new shoes. Others will have to await Thomas’ next visit, when she brings more shoes to accommodate specific walkers’ feet. She will also be bringing Feetures! socks for the participants donated by the stocking manufacturer.

This wasn’t an easy-in, easy-out day.

Thomas spent almost a half-hour on each walker, making sure either the shoes she brought fit properly or details were recorded so that specific conditions could be addressed on her second visit.

“It is so important for people to be in the right footwear,” she said.

Thomas knows of what she handles. She competes in “Ironman” triathlon competitions. Those aren’t for the weak of spirit.

For her, this is the first year her store has done a donation of this nates.

She said she was initially approached a while back by Arc BRIDGES, now known as the Arc of Northwest Indiana, which also works with developmental challenged.

Her business couldn’t make direct financial contributions, but is able to make donations.

And when several members of the OE Marathon team placed an order with her for their running gear, a connection was made that saw Thomas and her daughter, Megan, in Valparaiso giving shoes to the walking team.

Some of the Brooks and Saucaney shoes have been subsidized by the manufacturer.

Aiding in the activities was Cathy Kuchenmeister, Volunteer and Intern Coordinator at OE. Working with the Buddies is intern Betsy Adams, a marketing major senior and women’s basketball team member at Valparaiso University.

For more information on Opportunity Enterprises, call 219-464-9621. The Popcorn Panic kicks off the 33rd annual Valparaiso Popcorn Festival at 7 a.m. on Sept. 10. Parade applications are available online atwww.ValparaisoEvents.com; deadline is Monday. For information, call 219-464-8662.

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