Injured Naperville runner leads shoe drive for those in need

  • Naperville North High School junior Allison Grady started a shoe drive for a Chicago nonprofit called Share Your Soles that distributes used shoes to people in need all over the world. Allison thanked runners for their donation and her golden shoe award given to her by art teacher Chuck Hoff Tuesday at Mill Street Elementary School.

    Naperville North High School junior Allison Grady started a shoe drive for a Chicago nonprofit called Share Your Soles that distributes used shoes to people in need all over the world. Allison thanked runners for their donation and her golden shoe award given to her by art teacher Chuck Hoff Tuesday at Mill Street Elementary School. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • The annual Crosstown Classic race for elementary students in Naperville Unit District 203 was a hit Tuesday at Mill Street Elementary School in Naperville.

    The annual Crosstown Classic race for elementary students in Naperville Unit District 203 was a hit Tuesday at Mill Street Elementary School in Naperville. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville North High School junior Allison Grady can't run because of an injury, so she's spent the past couple of months running a shoe drive instead to benefit Share Your Soles, which ships shoes to people in need across the world. The drive in Naperville Unit District 203 schools collected more than 2,500 pairs.

    Naperville North High School junior Allison Grady can't run because of an injury, so she's spent the past couple of months running a shoe drive instead to benefit Share Your Soles, which ships shoes to people in need across the world. The drive in Naperville Unit District 203 schools collected more than 2,500 pairs. Courtesy of Allison Grady

  • Running shoes and athletic sneakers are the bulk of the 2,500 pairs Naperville Unit District 203 students have collected for Share Your Soles, but shoe drive organizer and Naperville North junior Allison Grady says she's also received some boots, heels and dress shoes.

    Running shoes and athletic sneakers are the bulk of the 2,500 pairs Naperville Unit District 203 students have collected for Share Your Soles, but shoe drive organizer and Naperville North junior Allison Grady says she's also received some boots, heels and dress shoes. Courtesy of Allison Grady

  • The garage of Allison Grady's house is packed with more than 2,500 pairs of shoes to donate to Share Your Soles, a Chicago nonprofit that ships the shoes to people in need around the world. Students in Naperville Unit District 203 turned in the shoes before the eighth annual Crosstown Classic elementary school race on Tuesday.

    The garage of Allison Grady's house is packed with more than 2,500 pairs of shoes to donate to Share Your Soles, a Chicago nonprofit that ships the shoes to people in need around the world. Students in Naperville Unit District 203 turned in the shoes before the eighth annual Crosstown Classic elementary school race on Tuesday. Courtesy of Allison Grady

 
 
Updated 9/27/2016 7:47 PM

A classic case of "You don't know what you've got till it's gone" motivated one Naperville high schooler to start a shoe drive that will have an impact around the world.

Allison Grady, a junior at Naperville North, was a track team member who loved running the heart-pounding 400-meter dash until she injured her hip practicing hurdles in April.

 

Since then, she's been unable to run until a cartilage donor can be found and she can have surgery.

What she had was a love of running, but for now, it's gone. And that made Allison realize a few things.

"Being able to run is a privilege that I did not understand before my injury," she said.

Some people don't have that privilege simply because they lack the resources, the luxury of free time -- even the basics like shoes.

"I know there are people in the world that have life a lot harder than I do," she said.

So Allison decided to aid those people by helping them run with a shoe drive that concluded Tuesday at the eighth annual Crosstown Classic elementary school race among the 14 grade schools in Naperville Unit District 203.

The drive collected more than 2,500 pairs of shoes -- 2,568, to be exact -- that Allison soon will deliver to the Chicago office of the nonprofit Share Your Soles. The organization has delivered more than 2 million pairs of sanitized, gently worn, donated shoes to people in poverty in Central America, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Africa, Eastern Europe and the U.S. The shoes from Naperville will be among the next shipped around the world to wherever they're most needed.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It makes Allison proud that the idea she developed because her hip popped out of its socket will help so many avoid disease and discomfort -- and maybe experience the joy of running and motion.

"The feeling you get after you run a race is unlike anything I can explain," she said.

It has to be experienced.

As District 203 celebrated the success of the Share Your Soles drive Tuesday at Mill Street Elementary, more than 1,000 young students experienced the joy of racing in distances between 400 meters and a mile. The kids are participants in running clubs at their schools, which have grown since Mill Street art teacher Chuck Hoff started a group at his school around 2008.

Allison didn't run with Mill Street's club when she went there, but her younger brother is a fifth-grader who got to race Tuesday.

Her participation, until she can run again, was to organize the shoe drive and to pitch in a pile of her own former pairs. Most shoes collected were running shoes or athletic footwear, but people also gave high heels, men's dress shoes, warm winter boots and other stylish sneaks.

"It was the perfect opportunity," Allison said, "to give them to people who need them."

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.