Shoe Giver of Tampa provides shoes for Gasparilla Distance Classic runners

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — Something as simple as lacing up running shoes may be difficult for some. At just 10 years old, Jacob Rice asked the local Corporation to Develop Communities what they needed most. The answer was simple: shoes.

That year, he started the Shoe Giver of Tampa non-profit organization to supply any needy kids or adults with a new pair of shoes. According to his website www.shoegiveroftampa.com he believes new shoes that fit correctly help kids have more pride and confidence. Today, Jacob is in college and his sister Julie is the official Shoe Giver of Tampa.

“I measure everyone, and then I go back out and get the shoes and bring them back,” said Julie Rice. She uses donations to buy the shoes and picks them out herself.

For the first time in the Shoe Giver’s history, the new shoes will serve the specific purpose of helping people cross the finish line at the Gasparilla Distance Classic. Rice is supplying the members of the Metropolitan Ministries “Race For Hope” team with new running shoes. All the members of the team are part of a 6-week training program to prepare for the Gasparilla Distance Classic 5K.

Yaritza Reyes and her three kids are on the team, and she is looking forward to race day. “A little nervous because I’ve never done it before, but it’s a new experience, and I kind of feel happy,” said Reyes.

The Race For Hope team has 100 members made up of residents of Metropolitan Ministries and staff members. While these families get fit together, they are also learning life lessons.

“They set a goal of running the race, and they want to do it in a certain time or distance. Once they do it, it translates over to the rest of their lives when they’re setting goals in other areas such as employment and housing,” said Ariel Landry, Health and Wellness Coordinator for Metropolitan Ministries.

This idea fits perfectly with Shoe Giver of Tampa’s belief that new shoes help create a new confidence, and it proves that new soles can really lift the soul.

The Race for Hope team will be on the 5K race route along Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa Saturday morning. Earlier that morning, runners will take part in the 15K race. The next day, Sunday, February 21, the half marathon race and 8K participants will line up and race down Bayshore Boulevard.

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