COEUR d’ALENE – For Lakes Middle School sixth-grader Damian Bosson, the all-new black Nike sneakers with a trademark white swoop were the “perfect fit.” Bosson and four other Lakes students each received a new pair of sneakers through a program called Running Shoes 4 Kids, founded by Athol resident Colene Hotmer in 2012.
Hotmer arrived at Lakes Middle School on Wednesday morning with a selection of running shoes sized for each child.
“I’m a Nike person,” Bosson said after carefully deciding.
Students spent many lunch breaks running laps, said sixth-grade teacher Kristin Odenthal. Students won a ticket for each round and were able to place them in raffles of their choice. Running Shoes 4 Kids provided sneakers, while other organizations donated bicycles, volleyballs, basketballs, t-shirts and other prizes.
Bosson put in all of his tickets for the new sneakers, he said.
Hotmer was inspired to start the program 10 years ago when she was a cross country coach. She noticed that many children had very worn sneakers or no sneakers at all. She uses the new sneakers to encourage kids to “get well,” she said.
“The only requirement to take those shoes is one thing,” Hotmer told students on Wednesday. “You must follow this mission. Especially this summer because you won’t have teachers telling you how to be or how to act. And that’s to go well, isn’t it? Because I know you know how to do this.
Hotmer encourages students to define what being well means to themselves. For some, it’s about being nice at school or making healthy choices about how to spend their time.
“That’s what Running Shoes 4 Kids is trying to empower your kids to do, get out there, and empower other kids, parents, and teachers to be good. To be helpful, not hurtful,” said Hotmer.
Part of the Go Good program is a community fun run scheduled for Saturday, July 23 starting at 10 a.m. The 5K run is a one day event for all ages. Visit runningshoes4kids.com for more information, to register or to donate to the organization. The event takes place at Volunteer Park, 5601 Jefferson St., Spirit Lake.
You are not a runner? There are volunteer opportunities and other activities to enjoy. There will be prizes, live music, a car show, local vendors and a kids’ zone filled with activities, Hotmer said.
Hotmer visited Spirit Lake Elementary on Wednesday afternoon to reward 25 other students with new sneakers. Spirit Lake, where many of Hotmer’s kids go to school, is one of the first schools Running Shoes 4 Kids worked with, she said.
To date, the program, which needs sponsors, has distributed more than 1,000 pairs of new sneakers in Kootenai County and produced more than 88 community events.