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Running Fit, an Ann Arbor, Michigan based company wins international humanitarian award!
Running Fit is the 2008 winner of the Ubuntu Award, a special honor to recognize the leading running specialty store for outstanding community service and involvement.
"The word 'Ubuntu' has no literal translation in English, but in essence it means humanism, a shared world view or vision of humanity," said Russell Clark, C.E.O. of Balega, sponsor of this award. "It's about the principle of caring for each other, and a spirit of mutual support. A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, generous, hospitable, caring and compassionate. More broadly it is the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity."
Balega created The Ubuntu Award to recognize the running store or individual who "manages to best encapsulate the Ubuntu philosophy through their everyday interaction with customers and community," Clark said. The actual award is a South African craft piece in the form of two hands coming together. Balega commissioned the piece from a Cape Town artist who specializes in intricate wire and beadwork, both of which are local handicrafts. Each year the winner is invited to South Africa as the guest of Balega to experience the spirit of Ubuntu first hand.
Steve Angerman and Randy Step, co-owners of Running Fit make a noticeable impact and a real difference in their communities through charitable giving and unique wellness programs, yet, until the running industry added it all up, they didnt realize what a big impact Running Fit made. (As Running Fits tag line states, (Make each step matter.)(Running Fits Raking #1 of 710 Running Stores)
Co-owner Randy Step had to be convinced, OK, perhaps its not just bragging to spread the news. Heck, maybe others will see this and get inspired to do the same.
Running Fit, with seven retail stores, hosts classes to help people get started running, walking and more recently, doing triathlons. Running Fit hosts 40 + fitness events annually, each with a charitable component. In 2007, Running Fit facilitated through its events donations of $220,000 in cash and in kind product to local charities. One major event, called Big House Big Heart, finishes in the University of Michigans Big House, (Largest stadium in the country) on the 50 yard line. Although proceeds from entries go to University or Michigan ALS Research and CS Mott Childrens Hospital, they opened the race to any non profit to put teams together to raise funds for their charities. 68 non profits raised funds ranging from $500 to $30,000! It really helped us because we didnt have to pay for anything for race set-up and we could concentrate on getting fund-raising done! states Stephanie Peterson (from The Program for Neurological Research and Discovery.)
Running Fit donated time, materials, prizes, race set-up, race management, and cash to 53 other charitable races during 2007. Adding up those donations and the donations to over 100 non-profits in 2007, (which is often as simple as a $65 box of fitness products to be auctioned or raffled, too substantial checks) added up to over $175,000!
Co-Owner Steve Angerman became director for a race put on by Conner ONeils Pub in Ann Arbor, Shamrocks and Shenanigans, with all proceeds going to Save A Heart Foundation. Steve: We took it on because the race needed our kind of help and the cause is importantsaving kids lives. In the end, we raised nearly $18,000.
Running Fit gets involved in all aspects of fitness. Their childrens program called Run Fit Kids includes 8 annual kids events, 3 kids fitness camps, a school program with rewards and school fitness assemblies. The flagship (Starship) event is the Mini Martian Marathon (http://www.martianmarathon.com/kids/) where children in grade schools throughout SE Michigan run 25 miles over 3 months then finish their last 1.2 of their 26.2 mile marathon in front of all the grown-up marathoners. The kids learn commitment, long term goal planning, and the value of fitness and the thrill of victory (Finishers t-shirt and medal). An interactive and educational website is in the works at runfitkids.com!
Running Fit womens program and line of clothing called Diva Darling (Proceeds from the clothing line help fund a battered women and childrens center in SE Michigan.) was designed to encourage women to get out and run together. Diva Nights at the 7 stores twice a year offer fitness clinics, sport bra fittings, fellowship and chocolate! Plans are in the works for a 2009 womens only race.
Early this year when a group of Kenyan athletes needed to escape the violence in their country and to compete in the USA in order to earn money to keep their families safe, Running Fit gave them shoes, gear and hosted fund-raising events in the stores to help pay for their trip. Running Fit also collected over 3,000 pairs of shoes to ship to Africa for the Soles4Souls project in just a two month period. We had to rent additional space because our warehouse was overflowing with donated shoes! exclaimed Randy.
I dont know about you but if this stores accomplishments dont epitomize what the word Ubuntu means, I am not sure the word can be defined.
So, this years recipient of the Ubuntu award goes to Steve Angerman and Randy Step and the folks at Running Fit in Michigan.
Randy & Steve: This award was earned by our caring staff, generous customers and community; you give us great hope for the future of humanity. Now get out and run!
Dance's With Dirt- A race for all seasons! Dances With Dirt is a series of four ultra/marathon/ relay events that take place in four states at four fearsome locations; Green Swamp, Florida, Devil's Ridge, Wisconsin, Hell, Michigan and Gnawbone, Indiana. The courses are designed to test the mettle of runners of all ages and fitness. Developed by the devilish mind of Running Fit's Randy Step, some of the events have become so difficult to get into, that they are put up on E-Bay to purchase. Check out their site at danceswithdirt.com
The Ubuntu Award is the most coveted award in the running shoe specialty store business. Runnint Fit, beat out over 450 stores in picking up this piece of hardware. Congrats to co-owners, Randy Step, Steve Angerman, their staff and team.
Red Carpet Run
Running Fit Trail Marathon
Running Fit Holiday Hustle
Dance's With Dirt Gnaw Bone, Indiana
Running Fit Honored as One of Americas 50 Best Running Stores
Local specialty running retailer recognized as one of the countrys best at gala ceremony this month at The Running Event in Austin, Texas
AUSTIN, TX November, 2009 Running Fit, in Ann Arbor, MI, a local specialty running retailer, was recently recognized as one of The 50 Best Running Stores in America by two leading trade and consumer publications.
Running Fit took its place among the countrys elite retailers following an extensive nomination and review process throughout 2009. The process culminated in the stores recognition at a gala awards ceremony in Austin on November 11 as part of The Running Event, an annual business seminar and trade expo for specialty running retailers. The 50 Best Running Stores in America awards program and The Running Event are owned by Formula4Media, LLC. The awards program is co-sponsored by Competitor Magazine, a publication of Competitor Group, Inc.
The local retailer was recognized by a panel of industry experts for its outstanding service, product knowledge and merchandising.
Specialty retailers are the heart and soul of the running business and it was a pleasure and privilege to recognize the best of the best during The Running Event, said Mark Sullivan, editor of Running Insight, a Formula4Media, LLC publication. The 50 Best Running Stores in America represent the best that our industry has to offer in terms of customer satisfaction and superior retailing.
On top of their commitment to the active community, these 50 Best Running Stores in America are highly involved in their local communities, giving back through charity involvement and working to spread the joy of the sport to all, added Doug Kaplan, Senior Vice President/Publisher of Competitor. The program highlights how crucial specialty running retailers are in their local markets. The stores are more than just havens of shoe knowledge; they are portals to the greater running world.
The process of compiling a list of the top 50 running shops in the country began early in 2009 when Formula4Media, LLC with the help of Competitor Magazine, began to collect and evaluate nominations from runners, soliciting feedback from consumers on their favorite running stores. More than 200 stores received nominations, and a panel of industry experts from Franklin Resource Group visited each nominated store to evaluate it on 20 different aspects of retailing, including product knowledge, environment and community involvement.
A special report on The 50 Best Running Stores in America appears in the current November/December issue of Competitor Magazine.