CARRBORO, NC - (DECEMBER 17, 2007) - Fleet Feet, Incorporated, the nation’s leading franchisor of running specialty stores, and Balega International, a manufacturer of technical running socks, have a partnership that goes beyond that of retailer and supplier. Over the past two years, the companies have joined forces to raise funds in support of a South African school for physically disabled and visually impaired children. Their joint efforts raised enough money in 2007 to purchase a much needed handicapped-accessible bus for the school.
Balega is an international company with roots in South Africa. While headquartered in theU.S., Balega develops and manufactures its socks at its Cape Town, South Africa, production facility. Balega supports theEthembeni School, located in rural KwaZulu Natal, as a way to give back to the South African communities on which it relies.
In 2006, Balega invited Fleet Feet to become its partner in the Lesedi Project, a fundraising initiative for the school. Balega recognized that Fleet Feet’s commitment to building communities and to giving back made it a natural partner for the project.
In addition to making corporate contributions, Fleet Feet Sports stores sell beadwork produced by Ethembeni students and a CD of South African music, and hold special events to benefit the school.
Fleet Feet Sports in Carrboro, North Carolinahas taken a special interest in the Lesedi Project. As winners of the 2007 InDuna Award,presented annually by Balega in recognition of community-based charitable contributions, store owners Rona Van Willigen and Bobby Biles have become drivers for the project within the national Fleet Feet organization. Earlier this year they traveled to South Africa to present the Ethembeni School with a check for funds raised by Fleet Feet stores, and they have played an active role in bringing the stores together to raise money for the purchase of the bus.
Balega and Fleet Feet brought in additional industry vendors as well, receiving support from Descente and Superfeet. “It is a great privilege for all of us at Balega to be part of an industry which shows such great generosity of spirit and which continually inspires us to redouble our fundraising efforts,” says Balega CEO Russell Clark.
Fleet Feet, Incorporated CEO Tom Raynor and President Jeff Phillips recently traveled to South Africa with representatives of Balega to present the bus to the school. Headmaster A.A. Mouton describes the reaction of the children upon seeing the bus: “They cannot believe that this wonderfully decorated, brand new bus is for them. This donation has instilled in them, a wonderful sense of pride towards themselves and their school. There is such excitement in the air--they cannot wait to go on their next outing!”
According to Jeff Phillips, “there is a synergy between Fleet Feet and Balega that goes beyond our business relationship that has enabled us to accomplish something tangible and meaningful for the children of Ethembeni. It has been tremendously rewarding to work together towards this goal.”