Running is one sport that is almost entirely free to participate in for most people. We take for granted that a pair of running shoes can be bought for less than $50, depending on where you buy them.
But for some people in the world even that amount isn’t possible. Shoes for Africa was started after Mike Sandrock, a sports journalist, came back from a coaching and racing trip to Cameroon, West Africa. He noticed that a lot of the runners ran barefoot. And still beat him, by the way.
The Shoes for Africa project started with a group of runners in Boulder, Colorado, who began shipping new and nearly new running shoes to runners to needy children and athletes around the world.
The non profit has since become One World Running and continues to grow. They’ve also added tee shirts and running shorts to their packages. The group is now a 100% volunteer organization that has begun expanding globally to continue the mission Sandrock set out to accomplish years ago.
In 2001 the organization started putting on races to raise money for the charity. They continue to add more races every year with the money going to One World Running charities. They’ve also recently added soccer cleats and baseball equipment.
Most of the shoes come from donations from individuals and from running clubs and organizations such as the Girl Scouts. Many people have shoe drives to collect new and nearly new shoes for One World. Most of the shoes are in usable condition, and those are the ones shipped to Africa. But even the running shoes that are not in good condition can still be recycled. Those are shipped to NIKE to be ground up and made into running tracks and playgrounds. This is done through Boulder’s Eco-Cycle program and the Reuse-a-Shoe program.