The giving spirit was certainly alive last month at Ohio-based Can’t Stop Running Company, where a surprise gift illustrated the “we-are-all-in-this-together: spirit of the running community.
It all started when the retailer announced on its social media pages that a “generous individual” had purchased two $100 Can’t Stop Running gift cards for the store to distribute to those “in need of shoes, but not comfortable with spending the money right now.”
Within minutes, the store received numerous submissions and had awarded the gift cards to a local nurse and a past customer who works in social services.
For Ryan King, who opened Can’t Stop Running with his wife, Amanda, in 2013, the selfless donation provided a spark of positive energy amid unprecedented times.
“The best part of this was giving away the two gift cards and being a part of something we know was making a difference for someone,” says King, whose two stores have been closed by Ohio’s stay-at-home order since March 23.
King assumed that was the end of it, until the donor unexpectedly reached out again on a few weeks later. This time, he pledged $500, requesting that the store create five $100 gift cards to cover the bulk of each footwear’s purchase price.
“That was a real ‘wow’ moment,” King says. “We were excited that he was so gracious again.”
After Can’t Stop Running reported the news on its social media channels, it was again flooded with notes. Rather than playing the role of judge and jury, deciding that one individual was more worthy than another, the store distributed the five gift cards to the first five individuals who contacted the store with a reasonable case.
While the donor asked to remain anonymous, King tells Running Insight he’s a professional who understands he’s fortunate to be in a stable financial position. He is also a multi-time Boston Marathon finisher and active part of his running community.
“Knowing him, it’s not surprising, but it certainly wasn’t expected, either,” King says. “Though I’ll never know his full intentions, I think he appreciates what running has been for him and thought this would be a valuable way to share that with others.”
King calls the $700 contribution “an amazing effort to be a part of,” as it has simultaneously supported local community members in need and boosted his family-owned small business at a particularly challenging time.
“We’re two small stores in suburban-type markets, so $700 in gift cards is appreciated,” King says. “We don’t for a second overlook the impact this has had on us as well.”
Following the anonymous donor’s contributions, King says other customers have reached out to him about potentially doing something similar, while many others have asked how they might help.
“By and large, runners are a generous group and that’s something we’ve seen of late with so many of our key supporters seeking us out,” King says. “It’s been uplifting and encouraging in so many ways.”