“Pick up your swag bag, drink tickets and maps, and we start riding at 1 PM!”
For more than twenty years, the community of Des Moines, Iowa, has come together to support kids in need with new athletic shoes. Des Moines resident Bob Montgomery has been a passionate cyclist for many years, and in the summer of 2020 organized a group of friends and colleagues to ride across the city's picturesque downtown. A portion of the registration cost supported Shoes That Fit's efforts in Des Moines, giving riders an opportunity to give back and exercise in the great outdoors at the same time.
Bob approached his employer with the opportunity to support kids in the Des Moines community. They welcomed the offer, and generously sponsored a hosted beverage stop in a city park along the route. Bob planned a route through the city that included stops at two other restaurants with outdoor spaces, supporting local businesses and creating opportunities for community, comraderie, and joy for the participating riders.
The day of the ride arrived, and nearly fifty riders cycled across Des Moines for kids in need. Through their efforts, more than 100 students in Des Moines received new athletic shoes for the school year.
Bob had such fun with the ride that he is organizing it again this year. You can learn more and register to join him this May—a fun adventure for the whole family!
“With hot sidewalks and the west Texas burrs in the grass, kids really need sneakers for the summer.”
Sara Dyrstad started working with Shoes That Fit back in her college days at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. As part of Delta Chi Theta, she and a friend began fundraising for shoes for a local school.
When Sara went on to medical school in Springfield, IL, she continued to help local kids with new shoes. A radiologist, she and her husband Bradley (an orthopedic surgeon) now practice in Odessa, Texas at Basin Orthopedic Surgical Specialists which focuses on sports medicine.
When the office was thinking of how to give back in their community, Sara brought up how easy it is to work with Shoes That Fit, and how giving shoes aligns with their goal to help kids stay active and healthy through play and sports.
They began fundraising with payroll deductions from staff members—just $5 a pay period adds up over the year!—and providing patients the opportunity to give. Rosie, the office receptionist, likes to make the patient giving fun. She decorates the waiting room with a picture or collage for every season—flags for 4th of July, shamrocks for St. Patricks, bunnies and eggs for Easter, tacos for Cinco de Mayo—and patients can donate $5 or so and put their name on a flag, shamrock, bunny, or taco and pin it up on the wall.
“And in the off season, when there are no holidays, Rosie puts up a shoe collage. Patients and visitors can put up their favorite shoe with their name on it!” shared Guylene, who serves as Director of Clinical Operations for the practice.
Basin Orthopedics began by helping 35 kids at Cavazos Elementary, and have helped over 200 kids in the past few years. This year they expanded and helped children at Murry Fly Elementary as well. “The nurse at Cavazos told us about the need at Murry Fly, and was even willing to have them helped instead of Cavazos, but thankfully we can help both!” shared Guylene.
They are delivering shoes in May to both schools, just in time for summer. Sara shared, “With hot sidewalks and the west Texas burrs in the grass, kids really need sneakers for the summer.”
Guylene shared her favorite memory of delivering shoes. “The first time I got the shoes and the kid, we went and sat down. He didn’t have socks, so we gave him some. Then he opened and box and said ‘Wow! Air Jordans!' My mind raced to the worst-case scenario, that they wouldn’t fit, and how I could race to the mall to find some that did. But they fit perfectly! He was so happy.”