Balega's Annual InDuna Award Presented to Fleet Feet Albany
On January 12, Charlie and Arlene Woodruff, and Fleet Feet Albany, became the fifth recipients of Balega's Induna Award. Once a year, Balega gives this award to a Fleet Feet store that demonstrated outstanding leadership, commitment, and service to their local community throughout the preceding year.
The word Induna is a Zulu word that means great leader, ambassador, or headman. The award is both a testament to Balega's South African heritage and a tribute to our retail partners we are proud to honor. Each year, the recipient of the Induna Award is invited to South Africa to experience the spirit of Zulu culture first hand and see how the passion of running is celebrated during the festival known as the Comrades Marathon.
"The Woodruffs and Fleet Feet Albany are a wonderful reflection of the word Induna. Their involvement in their local run community regularly goes beyond the norm," says Chris Bevin, General Manager of Balega International. "They do what many stores do every day in their communities but always seem to take it one step further and add something special to make it truly meaningful."
Charlie regularly talks with local high school students and coaches about their teams and what the students are trying to accomplish. He is always looking for students who have drive and ability, but may have had a tougher time recognizing their potential. He uses their interest in running as an opportunity to teach them to go beyond themselves and interact with others. He first works with their strengths and then challenges them to go outside their comfort zone to achieve more - reinforcing what makes each kid great and then helps them develop their weaknesses to make them better people.
The store works with a group of foster children with a program called Team Unstoppable. With the generous support of Saucony they were able to provide footwear and clothing to 40 children who trained and ran their first 5k. Something most of them probably never considered as an option.
At the beginning of cross country season, they host an annual spike nights. But again, they took this idea further in 2009 and provided a scholarship program to a small local school so they could get a track program off the ground. They also anonymously provide funding to schools so they are able to travel and compete at a higher level.
They work with local missions to provide shoes to children and families. Going a step further again, this year they will be collecting shoes with their Footwear for Friends program and Balega will help them send those shoes to South Africa.
Balega is proud to have retail partners like Fleet Feet Albany who are always looking to take their community involvement one step further. Their continual efforts to improving the lives of people of all ages is just one trait that sets them apart from others. Charlie and Arlene's accomplishments more than merit them receiving the 2009 Induna Award.