Help us make a difference!

Make Your Year-End Gift by Dec. 31st - your donation will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, and change more lives.

Store Owner, Vendors Partner to Supply Athletes with Free Shoes

May 01, 2010

As a shoe store owner and Special Olympics Florida coach for more than six years, Richard Wills has regularly given away merchandise from his store to Special Olympics athletes in need.

Special Olympics Florida Athlete sits on a chair and shows her shoe

A Special Olympics Florida athlete shows off her new donated shoes.

In February, he took this practice to a new level by contacting his vendors and securing more than 30 pairs of brand name shoes from Asics, Brooks and Saucony to give away at the Polk County Special Olympics Track & Field Meet. And if Wills has his way, this type of donation will one day be seen at Special Olympics across the country.

“My hope is that we can put something together on a national level to fit athletes with shoes at all state games,” Wills said. “We will find a way to make it a win-win-win for the manufacturers, the retailers, and the athletes.”

With the help of his distributors, Wills was able to get field credits for shoes that had been returned by customers. Often, shoes are returned due to an incorrect fit or simple buyer’s remorse with no defects or other reasons why they can’t be used by athletes. These products would normally be sold at a deep discount or returned to the manufacturer and destroyed. Wills is glad to see them in the hands of Special Olympics athletes instead.

“It’s a nice way to give back to the community,” he said.

Wills is also a member of the Independent Running Retailers Association, a trade group that includes 120 stores. He hopes this group will be able to help him expand the donations beyond his store located in Lakeland, Florida.

“The key is getting the manufacturers’ involvement. We need to sell the idea to them. Maybe there is a marketing return for participation, maybe a tax write-off. Anything we can do to help is awesome in my book.”


Your Donation Matters

Special Olympics transforms athletes’ lives through the joy of sport. Help us make a difference.

DONATE TODAY»

Volunteer Near You

Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!

LEARN MORE»

Follow Us

Make a holiday donation in honor of loved ones.

Donate »

Find events near you and learn about volunteer opportunities at one of our 226 worldwide locations.

FIND A LOCATION NEAR YOU »

Our Supporters

MicrosoftRevolutionizing information systems that power our games.Learn more »


Our Supporters

The Christmas Records TrustFunding Special Olympics work worldwide.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Annenberg FoundationSupports our goals for coaches’ excellence.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Bank of AmericaProud partner of Special Olympics.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Coca-ColaSpecial Olympics Founding Partner.Learn More »


Our Supporters

ESPNGlobal Presenting Sponsor of Unified Sports®.Learn More »


Our Supporters

EssilorOfficial global supplier of ophthalmic lenses.Learn More »


Our Supporters

AIPSGlobal Impact Partner for Special Olympics.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Lions ClubSupports access to quality eye care.Learn More »


Our Supporters

MattelSupports Special Olympics Youth Programs.Learn More »


Our Supporters

MTM RecognitionSupplier of awards and medals for our athletes.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Perfect Sense DigitalSpecial Olympics' leading digital partner.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Procter & GambleCelebrating over 30 years of partnership with Special Olympics.Learn More »


Our Supporters

SafewayRaises funds and awareness for people with disabilities.Learn More »


Our Supporters

SàfiloSupplies optical frames and sunglasses.Learn More »


Our Supporters

UNICEFProvides greater inclusion of children with disabilities.Learn More »


Our Supporters

Y&RPowering our global youth marketing campaign.Learn more »


Special Olympics Blog

Sport and Tech Team Up for Good

Now, thanks to Microsoft, athletes, coaches and families will have rapid access to useful information about their scores, times, personal bests, fitness and health. Special Olympics can use this capability to dramatically improve the lives of people in our Movement.  read more »

Posted on 2014-10-27 by Janet

go to blog »


*

Special Olympics - Become a Fan

Help us on #GivingTuesday and Your Gift Will be Matched!

Make your year-end tax-deductible donation and help us get one more person onto the playing field.

Your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar through Dec. 31.