Old Shoes Find New Life Thanks to Oak Hall

The Rerun team prepares 233 shoes to ship to Native American reservations in South Dakota later in December.
The Rerun team prepares 233 shoes to ship to Native American reservations in South Dakota later in December. Photo courtesy of Katie Ringdahl.

More than 200 pairs of running shoes, from Asics to Reeboks, form neat rows down 18-year-old Katie Ringdahl’s driveway. They vary in color, shape, brand and size, some very old and some barely worn, but soon they will all be headed to one place.

Rerun Sneakers, an organization directed by Oak Hall high school students, plans to donate nearly 600 pairs of running shoes to Native American reservations in South Dakota.

Katie Ringdahl, Oak Hall senior and president of Rerun, hopes the shoes find their way to those in need.

“I really wanted to be a part of helping others, especially for kids and adults who just want to run,” Ringdahl said. “It’s a relaxing sport, and very fun.”

The 600 shoes are gathered through collection drives by Oak Hall and St. Thomas Aquinas school in Ft. Lauderdale. Gainesville Running and Walking also made donations.

Rerun was founded by Brittney Ollinger, now in her second year at Oxford University in England, in August of 2012. Ollinger and Ringdahl ran track together at Oak Hall and wanted to give back to those who didn’t have the right gear to run, Ollinger said.

One World Running (OWR), a similar nonprofit based in Colorado, is helping Rerun’s most recent efforts by sending semi-trucks to pick up the shoes from Ringdahl and Ollinger.

The trucks will then bring the shoes to reservations in South Dakota, Ringdahl said. Some pairs will also be sent to Cameroon, Ghana and other parts of Africa.

OWR has helped the Gainesville-based organization in the past, but this will be Rerun’s largest shipment thus far.

Since Ollinger founded Rerun it has donated over 3,000 pairs of shoes to Haiti, Jamaica, Africa and other places in need.

Mike Carrillo, owner of Gainesville Running and Walking, said Ollinger approached him about wanting to start a nonprofit after visiting San Andrés Island. He said Ollinger explained to him how children were running and playing with either socks or nothing on their feet.

“We started off as a drop off spot where people could bring old shoes when they bought a new pair, or bring back a defective pair,” Carillo said. “It grew more and more through word of mouth, and now people know to bring their shoes to us.”

He estimates Gainesville Running and Walking has donated about 700 shoes to Rerun’s cause.

“You don’t know who the person is that is getting the shoes, but you know you’re making a difference,” Ringdahl said. “You don’t know how big of a difference, but you’re doing something good for others. That’s what’s most rewarding.”

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