Give Running

By Mike Burnstein

Nov 8, 2012 9:47:00 AM

Interview with Greg Woodburn, Founder and President of Give Running

1) What does Give Running do?

Give Running teaches youth, through running, the character traits and skills that serve as a foundation for success in all aspects of life.

We share our love for running as well as the many benefits and opportunities running fosters — such as improved health, self-confidence, and new friendships — by collecting, cleaning, and then donating new and used running and athletic shoes to disadvantaged youth in developing countries and local inner-city communities.

Our motto is: Give opportunity. Give joy. Give Running.

Woodburn With Shoes

2) What problem are you trying to address?

Obesity disproportionately affects certain minority youth populations and is a self-perpetuating cycle. If one parent is obese, there is a 50% chance that the children will be obese; when both parents are obese, their children have an 80% chance of being obese. We can reverse the epidemics of juvenile diabetes and obesity by addressing physical activity, nutrition, habits formed by our environments, and socio-economic factors. We need programs like Give Running to help kids run forward toward brighter futures.

If we can help youth discover their passions and then live those passions by working hard, resiliently pursuing their dreams, and helping others, then I think Give Running is sparking the same transformative impact of sport in the lives of others that running has fostered in my own life.


3) Why runners? Why running shoes? 

I began with running because of my personal experience being a competitive distance runner since elementary school. And as a four-year distance runner and 2012 Distance Team Captain of the University of Southern California Men’s Track and Field Team, I have personally experienced the opportunities and joy fostered by running.


4) What kind of impact can a donated pair result in?

I think the best way to answer this is with a story:

In December 2009, I traveled to Mali in West Africa as part of the USC Africa Health Initiative and spent three weeks in the small village of Sikoro (population 450) building an irrigated community garden. I also brought 113 pairs of Give Running shoes – as many as I could fit in five duffel bags. The day before departing, I went on a six-mile run circling through the village. After running the first few laps of my quarter-mile loop in solitude, I was soon joined by three, ten, and finally more than twenty smiling kids. My running partners were wearing the shoes they had recently received; for many, it was their first-ever footwear.

                Fitting Shoes  African Children Racing

During this most memorable run of my life, one young man stood out because he was unable to race on the trail's rocky sections. Lameen Sacko, I learned, had not received a pair of gift shoes. The next morning – my last in the village – I met Lameen at his mud hut and asked him to try on my personal running shoes, which were the only shoes I brought for my own use in Mali. The size-11.5 SuperNovas fit Lameen perfectly.


6. Tell our readers how they can donate to Give Running.

Give Running, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization, and you can donate to us financially by mailing a check to our headquarters at 400 Roosevelt Court, Ventura, CA 93003; or by using the Donate Now button on our website.

You can also of course donate shoes to one of our chapters or start a program in your community. I cannot overemphasize that we only distribute shoes in excellent condition; indeed, we have received enthusiastic feedback from many orphanages about the top quality of our donations, and it is very important to us to continue giving our recipients high quality shoes- we care about the function rather than fashion of the shoes.

Topics: running, charity, giving back, poverty


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