12 Years... #FleetFeetGivesBack

12 years. (Written by Boots)

That’s how long it’s been since Ellen and I opened Fleet Feet Sports here in Rochester. Back on July 15th, 2004 we opened on Monroe Avenue in Brighton near the 12 corners. We had 4 employees, 3000 sf and an idea that we could do run specialty differently than it was being done at the time. We also had an absolutely terrible opening day but that’s another story.

I had been working in run specialty for 12 years at that point and at the same time traveling the world racing and visiting all sorts of cool run and bike stores. I took mental notes of everything I liked in my travels and how I could bring those things back to Rochester. I had already started YellowJacket Racing in 1998 for the sole purpose of not letting my hometown race (Webster Turkey Trot) become extinct and wanting to bring some of those cools race experiences I got to do back here to Rochester.

We would do it differently. We would build the community to be even better than it was, make it healthier, open to all abilities, all while giving back as much as we possibly could each and every year to help other groups grow as well. We committed to supporting as many local groups as we could, either with services, funding or both. We did this from day one even as we got off to a terrible start that required laying off all staff within 2 months and lots of late night dinners of plain pasta for Ellen and myself

You see back in 2004, there were no store group runs, no pub runs, no training programs, no store clinics, no pace leaders, no scavenger runs, no free race photos, no guided trail runs. There was no videotaping of your feet to see what you did while you ran or walked. Finish lines were 2 traffic cones, no announcing of your name, no music, no cheer sections and often no traffic control and no medical support.

We were determined to do it differently. We started group runs from the store even if it meant just a single person joined us, running down Monroe Ave to do hill repeats at Cobbs Hill or running the original Happy Hour route. We started training programs from learn to run (now No Boundaries) to half and full marathon and triathlon. We hosted yoga classes after hours on the sales floor, we did stationary bike workouts in the basement in the winter. There were nutrition clinics and fashion shows. We started pub runs and scavenger runs to show off the city that we love being part of. We invested in our races to make them more professional and a better experience for all of those involved.

Here we are 12 years later. Some things have changed, many things remain the same. That little store on Monroe is now a medical supply company, the Armory Store now being our flagship location with plenty of room to spread-out and even better, space to park for the hundreds that sometimes join us for runs. We added a store on the west side of town (Ridgeway) to better support everyone on the other side of the River. Because we believe so much in Fleet Feet Sports we purchased the Buffalo store in 2014, to expand on what can be done for a community. With over 60 employees working to serve our customers and the community, some do it at events, some on the sales floor, some via training programs, some acting as support to everyone one else and some doing a bit of everything.

That sounds so very different from 2004 but it isn’t, at our core we are still just a local family run business trying to make our community better in any way we can. Now we don’t always talk about everything we do for our community, not because we are shy, simply because it is what we do every day. It’s why we started this company. We didn’t open for the purpose of selling footwear and apparel, that’s what we do to allow us the opportunity to serve and build our community

We saw a comment recently from someone on social media that assumed we didn’t do much of anything for the local community simply because they personally didn’t hear about it.  This person was partially correct.  Ellen and I are types where philanthropy is something you just do, not necessarily do it, then tell someone you did it.  We often kept it anonymous or within our walls.  However, after 12 years, recognizing comments like this on social media and having 3 stores and a race company that do offer various forms of giving back to the community; perhaps it's time to share how Fleet Feet Sports & YellowJacket Racing have tried to help the community. Below are the groups we have supported over the last 12-15 months.  Each year the list can change. I’m proud to say the list is about this long every year and I’d expect it to be 12 years from now when we hit 24.  Much of this is attributed to the work of our staff and the support of our customers in the stores, at races and in training programs.  Thank you for helping us help this magnificent group (in no specific order) of organizations.

  • Run 4 Wayne – Wayne A Burlison Memorial Scholarship
  • Saint Mary’s School
  • UR Well 5k.  Supports the clinic and is a way for medical students to reach out to the community
  • Good Samaritan5k - Christian Health Service of Syracuse, affordable healthcare
  • Run to Remember - Golisano Children’s Hospital
  • Swigert 5k - Pancreatic Cancer Association of Western NY
  • Uganda Water Project – Ugandan Water Project, provides clean/safe/accessible drinking water
  • Rochester Regional Health Flower City Challenge – the following groups received donations from the proceeds of this event
    • Gilda's Club
    • Lifespan Rochester
    • Bay View YMCA
    • RescuePit
    • Friends of Mt. Hope Cemetery
    • Team IGH School of Nursing
    • Rochester Speed Skating
    • Penfield Cross Country
    • Webster Track & Field
    • Holley Track & Field
    • Hilton Track & Field
    • Sailing Club of Rochester
    • Boy Scouts of America
    • Highland Park Neighborhood
    • Susan B Anthony Neighborhood
    • Genesee Waterways
    • Mt. Hope Cemetery
  • Run 4 Young – Bishop Matthew Clark Youth Advocacy Fund
  • Kid Fit - Foodlink’s Backpack Program
  • Scrubs and Stethoscopes – National Nurses Week Nursing education and conference attendance
  • UMMC 5k - United Memorial Medical Center
  • Run 4 Fun - CP Rochester
  • Gananda Youth Triathlon - Gananda Sports Boosters
  • Bill Lawler 5k –Bill Lawler Huntington’s research fund
  • Pink Ribbon Run – Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester
  • ADP 5k - Hickock Center for Brain Injury
  • Barge Charge - Badge of Honor Association & Brockport Food Shelf
  • Plank Road Elementary School Youth Run
  • Bay View YMCA Kids event
  • Fast & Furriest – Verona Street Animal Shelter
  • Airport 5k – Lifetime Assistance
  • River Ramble – Rochester School for the Deaf
  • Pittsford Triathlon – Pittsford Parks and Recreation
  • Mondo Moto 5k - Trinity Montessori School
  • Albion Strawberry Festival 5k – supports local Albion Charities
  • Warrior 5k - Judy DiMarzo Cancer Survivorship Program & cancer research at Wilmot Cancer Institute.
  • Zero Prostate Cancer Rochester
  • St Thomas 5k - Flower City Habitat for Humanity
  • Real Beer 5k - Business Association of the South Wedge
  • 5k for Kalei
  • Music 4 Everyone – m4e Summer Arts Camp & Loop Ministries Music after School Program
  • Sweden 5k – Sweden/Clarkson Parks & Rec
  • Fairport July 4th 4 mile – Perinton Chamber of Commerce
  • Brighton July 4th 5k– Brighton Chamber of Commerce
  • Greece July 4th 5k – Greece Chamber of Commerce
  • Oatka Triathlon - Tri the Oatka Scholarship
  • Phelps 20k – Phelps Chamber of Commerce
  • Young and Wyld 5k – Honeoye Falls-Lima Young Life
  • Glow Corporate Cup – Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming YMCA
  • Out Run the Sun – Melanoma Action Committee
  • Perinton Youth Triathlon – Perinton Parks and Recreation
  • Women Run the ROC - Rochester Museum and Science Center
  • Sodus Point Triathlon -Sodus Point Neighborhood Association
  • Clarkson 5k - Clarkson Historical Society
  • Fun Fit 5k – Brighton Recreation
  • 5k for Kalama – Kalama Project (Kalama, Kenya)
  • Javier Ortiz 5k – TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors)
  • Metro 10 – Albion Running Club – Warrior House
  • Stop the Trafficking – Angels of Mercy
  • Black Diamond Express - The Mendon Foundation
  • Oakfield Labor Day 5k - Genesee County CASA for Children
  • Dash in the Dark XC – Oakfield Alabama Cross Country
  • Ramon Rocha 5k - The Arc of Livingston – Wyoming Foundation
  • Pound the Ground 5k - Veteran’s Outreach Center
  • Monroe County Parks - Trail Running Film Festival
  • Rochester Marathon – the following groups received donations from the proceeds of this event
    • U of R Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Unit
    • Rescue-A-Bull, Inc.
    • Rochester Childfirst Network
    • Junior League of Rochester
    • Rochester Speed Skating Team
    • Boy Scouts
    • Winona Woods Neighborhood
    • Penfield Cross Country
    • Odyssey Cross Country
  • Webster Central Schools - Webster 4th Grade Mile
  • Barktoberfest 5k – Lollypop Farms
  • Ogden 5k – Town of Ogden Parks & Rec
  • Annalise’s 5k – Annalise’s Friends which raised funds for research and raising awareness of Neuroblastoma
  • Hike for Haccamo – Camp Haccamo (summer camp for children and adults of a wide range of disabilities)
  • Stokoe Farms 5k – Trees for Troops
  • Montessori 5k – Montessori School of Rochester
  • MCC Scholarship 5k – MCC Foundation, Scholarships for students
  • Scarecrow/Resolve 5k – RESOLVE – Domestic Violence prevention/transition
  • Bandana Bolt – 13thirty Cancer Connect (formerly Melissa’s Living Legacy Teen Cancer Foundation/Teens Living with Cancer)
  • MS Society/Monster Scramble - National MS Society
  • Courage Run – Laura’s Gifts (breast cancer)
  • Moore 10k/5k - Donald K Rhine Scholarship
  • Pumpkins in the Park – Youth Sports Foundation, BCCR
  • St Rita’s 5k - St Rita’s Church & School
  • East Avenue Grocery Run - Foodlink
  • VeteRun – Stars & Stripes, Honor Flight
  • Veterans 5k – the Student Veteran Scholarship at the College at Brockport
  • Webster Turkey Trot – Jim May Scholarship Fund
  • Webster Turkey Trot – Hope House
  • Reindeer Run -The Strong National Museum of Play
  • Polar Plunge - Special Olympics
  • Fleet Feet Sports Gives Back Program – any Rochester runner doing a running event for charity can sign up and we will make a donation to their fundraising campaign. Held 3 times annually
  • Golisano Children’s Hospital – Fleet Feet Sports Fashion Show
  • Breast Cancer Coalition Rochester – in store fund raising campaign held each October
  • Regional Elite Distance Camp at Olympic Training Center – 2 full athlete scholarships per year
  • Regional Elite Distance Camp at Olympic Training Center – fully outfitted 1 athlete with all required running and hiking gear needed for camp
  • Monroe Milers – footwear, apparel, socks, race entries
  • Women’s Right to Run 19k - Women’s National Hall of Fame
  • Canandaigua Classic Half Marathon - Canandaigua Youth Sports
  • Finger Lakes Trail Commission
  • Relay for Life Pittsford - American Cancer Society
  • Sodus Point Lighthouse 5k – Sodus Point Lighthouse Society
  • George Eastman House 5k – George Eastman House
  • Foodlink – Ton of Fun program, food donations
  • Good Food Collective – Food pick up location
  • Gift Basket Donations – donation of product or gift cards to charity event or corporate wellness event
    • Ronald McDonald House
    • Young Life Rochester
    • St. Louis School – Pittsford
    • Finger Lakes Burn Association
    • Visions Global Empowerment
    • The Strong
    • American Cancer Society/Relay for Life
    • Conserve Henrietta
    • Conserve Fairport
    • American Heart Association
    • Orange Theory Fitness
    • AutismUp Gala
    • Boys & Girls Club of Elmira
    • Wild Wings
    • SWBR Architects
    • U of R Health Fair
    • McQuaid High School
    • Charlie’s Old Goat Trail Run
    • MVP Health Fair
    • Klein Steel
    • PepsiCo
    • Villa of Hope
    • Uniland
    • Kodak Alaris
    • ROC Top 50
    • AAA
    • Greece Chamber of Commerce
    • MCC
    • Kodak
    • Weight Watchers
    • Gateway
    • Citi Health Fair
    • Hillside Children’s Center
    • Absolute Performance
    • Mid-Erie Counseling
    • URMC Health Fair
    • ESL
    • ARTC
    • The Pike Company
    • St. Mary’s
    • AVOX
    • PMD Health Fair Federated Investments
  • Planet Aid – Shoe Donations
  • Flower City Track – Shoe Donations
  • American Heart Association – Heart Walk and 5k Run
  • Tim Hale Fund – University of Rochester XC/T&F
  • Washington Grove – Trail Maintenance

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