Allstate Life Insurance Chicago 13.1 Marathon Shoe collection

Chicago, Chicago, Events, Rescue Missions, video

Allstate Life Insurance Chicago 13.1 Marathon Shoe collection

No Comments 07 August 2012

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Our first event with Allstate Life Insurance was a huge success. Together with Allstate Life Insurance and Shea McClellin of the Chicago Bears we collected 400 pairs of shoes for Breakthrough Urban Ministries in Chicago! Next stop Boston!

One Pair for Gina.

Chicago, Chicago, Events, Rescue Missions

One Pair for Gina.

No Comments 15 September 2010

From Left to Right: Tom Wicus, East Coast Director of Ops; My Mom; MacCallister Byrd, my older son; Me; Jackson Byrd, my youngest son; Melinda Byrd, my wife; Lindsey Nagy, GYS Board Advisor

Chicago started like any other event; me recruiting basically my whole family as volunteers to help collect shoes from all the runners and participants at the Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.  Also joining us for this event were Tom and Lindsey from New York.  The team was assembled and ready to go.  All we needed now were for the people to come through the expo and donate their shoes.  Odd thing was, the expo was strangely slow for us.  The slowest expo to date as a matter of fact. What we collected in two days we normally collect in a half a day.  Not all was lost and to better explain, let me back up a few days.

I landed in Chicago a week before the event feeling positive knowing how much Chicago loves running.  Even though Chicago loves running, I knew I had to get the word out about us being at the Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in hopes of collecting as many pairs of shoes as possible for Breakthrough Urban Ministries.  What better way to get the word out, with no marketing budget, than good ‘ole social networking! The next few nights I was a Tweeting and Facebook crazed, non-profit peddling machine.  Anytime someone mentioned #RnRCHI on Twitter I was tweeting them.  Anytime someone posted something about the event on Facebook I was replying; all in hopes of getting the word out about donating their shoes.  I am constantly amazed by the connections that can be made from such valuable social networking tools.

Tom and I with Jason and Molly Mesnick

Through using Twitter I was able to meet Jason and Molly Mesnick from The Bachelor.  They both showed immediate interest in what we were doing.  What a blessing it was to have them reach out to me and ask how they could help.  Not only did they start spreading the news to over 40k of their followers but they also offered to come work the booth for awhile on Saturday.  It was having them hang out with us at the booth and in hindsight, even though the expo was slow for us, I was glad because it gave me time to get to know Jason and Molly.  Each of them have tremendous hearts for helping others.  Jason even has his own non-profit called Project Parachute that focuses on helping single parents in America by providing childcare scholarships and establishing single parent support programs across the nation.  After spending a couple hours together with them and getting to know one another I’m sure we will be teaming up again in hopes of helping the lives of those in need.

Ending the day with only 125 pairs I wasn’t quite sure what to expect come race day and to be quite honest, I was disappointed.  That’s what’s nice about having such a supportive family and team.  They always know how to keep things positive and focus on what is being accomplished – Helping others. Whether we collect another 125 pairs on race day or one pair, the fact was, we had collected 125 pairs for people in Chicago who might not otherwise have any.

Race Day. 6 am. It’s quiet. People are gear checking their clothes across from our booth. The race begins. 8:30 am comes and all heck breaks loose! Within three hours we take in 350 pairs and run out of flip flops to give people. People were coming by the booth, tossing shoes behind us, to the sides of us, in piles! It was awesome!  Total count for three days – 475 Pairs!  The 2nd largest collection to date at one event for us.  The message was clear, our job is not to worry about when and where the shoes will come from, but to do our due diligence in the work and be ready when it happens.

After all, it was just one pair that made a difference to Gina, not 475.

Chicago Rock ‘n’ Rollers Unite!

Chicago, Chicago, Events, Rescue Missions

Chicago Rock ‘n’ Rollers Unite!

No Comments 27 July 2010

Chicago Skyline

Chicago Illinois, to some is considered, “The Windy City”,  “Chi-Town, “The Chill”, “Chicagoland”, “The City of Broad Shoulders”, and even “New Gotham”.  To others living below the poverty level it’s considered just another place to survive.  The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless reports that there are 21,000 homeless people in Chicago on any given night.  Men. Women. Children. Families.

Give Your Sole hopes to alleviate some of the stress involved for these families when having to decide how to spend what money they do have. That is why we are excited to be partnering again with Breakthrough Urban Ministries and donating to them the shoes we collect from the Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon Health and Fitness Expo.

Some of the shoes collected at the 2009 Chicago Rock 'n' Roll 1/2 Marathon

Over the past seventeen years, Breakthrough Urban Ministries has provided sanctuary to more than 10,000 homeless people in Chicago seeking shelter from the effects of poverty and addiction.

For seven years, Breakthrough Urban Ministries has provided a network of support to over 500 children and their families seeking hope for a better future.

Each year, Breakthrough Urban Ministries serves…

64,000 meals to homeless men and women.

240 homeless men and women who find safe harbor in Breakthrough’s shelters.

120 homeless women by providing 24/7 shelter and free health care to those without insurance or Medicaid.

I’d like to thank Arloa Sutter , the leader and founder of Breakthrough Urban Ministries, for all her and her team does to partner with Give Your Sole making this such a great event for both parties.

Being born in Central Illinois I’m always excited to be able to work with organizations in Chicago and those who want to give back to their hometowns. That is why for this event we are fortunate to also partner with the Luol Deng Foundation founded by Professional Chicago Basketball star Luol Deng.  While our focus continues to be on those domestically who find themselves homeless or in need, we also realize that many across the globe face many similar, if not worse, circumstances.  Recently, Adam Andre, the director of the Luol Deng Foundation, returned from a trip with Luol to his hometown in Sudan where he saw first hand the degree of poverty only few can imagine.  Being friends with Adam and him knowing we would be in town collecting shoes at this event he reached out to me in hopes of being the recipient of whatever we could offer from our collection efforts. That is why I decided since we would be collecting for 3 days that we would donate the shoes we collect on race day to help their cause.  I’d like to thank Adam and Luol for thinking of us when they saw a need for shoes and having the desire to work together in hopes of providing much needed shoes to those living in poverty in the Sudan region.  We are happy the timing worked out for us to be able to form such a partnership during this event.

I’ve come to realize that as much pain as we see, we aren’t going to be able to help everyone not only in our great nation but those abroad. However, seeing these things will never stop us from trying and if a friend of mine has a heart for wanting to help others, I’m not about to stand in his way should he come to me. Knowing the tremendous hearts that all the Rock ‘n’ Roll runners and participants have from doing so many events I’d like to thank you in advance for the donations you are about to be make that will not only unite our three great organizations but more importantly unite those who “have” with those who “have not”.

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

Psalm 133:1

Breakthrough Urban Ministries in Chicago

Chicago, Rescue Missions, video

Breakthrough Urban Ministries in Chicago

No Comments 17 December 2009


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