Imagine taking to the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas in flip-flops. What’s the first thought that comes to mind? Madness. Frostbite. Unimaginable. For one, it actually happens. And we’re referring to the hardworking porters of the Singalila Trek a.k.a. Kanchenjunga Trek (numbering between 45 to 50) along the Indo-Nepal border. They are the men who faithfully lug the load of mountaineers for a living.
Jet Airways, India’s premier airline, and Running Lab recently collaborated in a “shoe-raising” initiative titled Project Love Sneaker on behalf of these porters. From 30 September to 30 October, the public was encouraged to donate their used running shoes to Running Lab branches in exchange for a $50 shoe voucher (redeemable at Running Lab stores) plus a chance to participate in a lucky draw – a 5day/4night East Himalayas trip for two sponsored by Jet Airways. The final tally: 1,034 pairs.
“Regular runners are advised to replace their running shoes after clocking 600km – 800km mileage in order to prevent running injuries. Most of the time, these shoes are still in relatively good condition and it is too wasteful to dump them. Hence instead of throwing them away, we want to provide an avenue for runners to give a second life to these used running shoes. The shoes can be donated to protect the feet and make a difference to the lives of the less fortunate people in other parts of the world such as India.” says Karen Chua, Marketing Manager, Running Lab.
Previously, the shoes collected from Project Love Sneaker was donated to The Salvation Army (Singapore), which served more as a central distribution point for the needy. The strategic alliance with Jet Airways this year represents a step forward for the programme, tapping on the airline’s extensive network that covers the far flung areas of India.
When asked about the logistical arrangements, Jayne Low, Regional Sales & Marketing Manager, Jet Airways, shared “Because of the overwhelming response, now we have a thousand over pairs of shoes. I’m sure we can cover the entire mountain but we’re not going to bring it all at one shot so we have the first batch that’s going there on 5th of December. We have a group of students going up to our villages, SMU students. I think we will try and get them to bring at least 100 pair of shoes so they can give the porters and the villagers.”
RunSociety was down at Running Lab (Velocity@Novena Square) to grace the prize presentation ceremony (for the lucky draw). The winner was Lim Han Siong, a 37-year old IT Professional.
“First of all, when I was donating the pair of shoes, I didn’t know about any vouchers or a prize of a trip in the first place,” expresses Lim. “I like trekking, yes, and had a chance to go to Nepal once so far so it’d be good to visit the Himalayas again.”
Well, looks like the winning prize went to the right guy who sacrificed his shoes for the all the right reasons. There’s still next year if you missed out this time round, so just hang on to those second-hand pairs. After all, it’s going to people who definitely need it more than we do.