Tag archive for "Chicago"

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

YouTube Preview Image

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!


Allstate Life Insurance Partners with GYS

No Comments 05 June 2012

It’s been awhile since my last post and even longer since our last event. Six months to be exact. Having a full time job that requires a lot of my time had me focusing on work the past six months. While having my head down working and daydreaming about my next Give Your Sole event an incredible opportunity presented itself.  The great people of US Road Sports  recommended Give Your Sole to Allstate Life Insurance as a potential partner.  After some great conversations with the Allstate Life Insurance representatives a great partnership was formed and we could not be more excited and grateful. You can see the press release HERE.

Here is a list of all the races we will be attending in 2012:

June 9thAllstate Life Insurance Chicago 13.1 Marathon

September 16thAllstate Life Insurance Boston 13.1 Marathon

October 7thAllstate Life Insurance Atlanta 13.1 Marathon

October 27thAllstate Life Insurance Dallas 13.1 Marathon

November 11thAllstate Life Insurance Fort Lauderdale 13.1 Marathon

Please check back for more details under our events tab. We look forward to seeing you at the races!

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


Success in Chicago in more ways than expected

3 Comments 04 August 2009

Me with my son, Mac

Me with my son, Mac

When I arrived in Chicago, a city I look forward to visiting every time I come, I knew that the Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon was going to be an exciting event for Give Your Sole.  Little did I know what a truly amazing experience it would turn out to be.  It all started on Friday at the Health and Fitness Expo just like any other race.  Fridays are known to be a bit slower because people have to work and figure they still have Saturday to pick up their race packets. We still took in 97 pairs which is a good amount of shoes.  Saturday rolled around and the crowd grew in size and we ended up collecting 150 pairs. The rest of those who came by the booth said they would donate their shoes Sunday after the race to get their free flop-flops. They did, 234 of them!

Sunday is where things got a little crazy. I had my 15 year old son Mac with me, along with my mom, dad and brother, all weekend helping out at the booth. Mac did an incredible job talking with people like he’d been doing this for years. He never hesitated in telling people about what we were doing.  I now understand what true joy is because I felt it from the tip of my toes to the top of my head standing in awe as my once little boy now stood before me talking with people, recruiting people to make a difference.  He stood there for hours on end Friday and Saturday until he was exhausted.

Sunday morning rolls around and as many of you know it was an early morning, especially for a 15 year old.  We all got up and headed to the race but ended up having to park about a mile and half away causing us to be late getting to our booth.  Mac decided to take off running to get to the booth and get things ready for the day.  About an hour or so later Mac became dizzy and a migraine set in.  From that point on he crashed, hard and fast.  As the runners began to finish I decided he needed to get over to the medic tent and so off we went.  Within the 10 minutes of arriving in the tent he lost feeling in his face and left arm; completely numb and he could not squeeze my hand. Of course this made him nervous resulting in some hyperventilation. The wonderful medics that were helping Mac decided it was best to get him transported and so off we went.  Next stop; the hospital. I ran back to the Give Your Sole tent to give the news to Mom and Dad and when I came to the booth what I saw was truly amazing.  Shoes EVERYWHERE!  Mom and Dad were buried in shoes up to their eyeballs. Thank goodness my brother had made it to help out. Three to Four people deep waiting in line, bare foot, holding their shoes ready for donation. It was working.  All of our work and much of Macs had paid off.  The people at MorningStar Rescue Mission who needed shoes would not be let down.

Sirens blaring and weaving through traffic we arrived at the hospital.  I don’t care who you are, if you have to be in a hospital it can get scary, especially if you are the one being worked on. It was no different for Mac. My son was now going to get the full treatment; blood test, I.V. and CAT Scan; all of which were not anywhere on his list of things to do today.  At this point I began to see there was a bigger plan for Mac and I today.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m divorced from Mac’s mom and even though Mac and I have remained in contact and have seen each other pretty much on a regular basis since he was little we never have really gone through something like this together; and hopefully never will again.  Looking into his eyes he was scared and confused but he also knew I was there for him.  After hours of waiting, the usual protocol for hospitals, everything came back clear.  Diagnosis; the migraine was brought on by dehydration resulting in his body falling to pieces.

Four things happened this weekend. First, Mac was there for me to help grow Give Your Sole.  Second, I was there for Mac when he needed me. Third, the Lord was there for both of us. Fourth, the runners, 481 of them who donated their shoes were there for those in need at the MorningStar Rescue Mission.

Thank you to everyone for the support and making this an event where Give Your Sole grew, memories were made and love was strengthened.

Chicago, Rescue Missions

MorningStar Mission, Joliet Illinois

No Comments 11 June 2009


Give Your Sole had great success at the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon for our first event and now will be in Chicago!  All the moderately worn athletic shoes that are donated will go to help those in need at the MorningStar Mission in Joliet, Il.  MorningStar Mission is a non-denominational organization dedicated to relieving the spiritual and physical hunger of the poor.

With your help, we hope to really make a difference in the lives of those that are less fortunate in the surrounding Chicago areas.  The summers in Chicago are incredible but remember the winters are FREEZING.  Now imagine it without shoes on your feet.  So go dig in your closet, dig in your kids closet, and you guys – go dig in the garage and bring us all your moderately worn shoes so we can get them to the people that can use them.  Look for the event information by clicking on the “Events” tab located above.  See you there!


Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

1 Comment 10 June 2009


Taken from the Sears Tower

Taken from the Sears Tower

We are thrilled to be taking a part in the Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon this summer.  For all of you that will be lucky enough to experience not only a great event but a great city we look forward to seeing you there.  We will have a booth at the expo on July 31st and August 1st where we will be collecting moderately worn mens, women’s, and children’s athletic shoes.  We will also be at the finish line on race day, August 2nd, collecting your “Race Day Shoes”.  Those donating the pair right off their feet on RACE DAY ONLY will receive a free pair of Give Your Sole flip flops so you won’t be bare foot.

All the shoes donated at this event will go to the MorningStar Rescue Mission in Joliet to help those that are less fortunate.  Please make it a point to bring those shoes you don’t need anymore.    Chances are somebody can use them.  Making a difference in someone else’s life will make a difference in yours. 

Chicago Navy Pier

Chicago Navy Pier

© 2010 Give Your Sole. Powered by Wordpress.

Daily Edition Theme by WooThemes - Premium Wordpress Themes