Don Borowski began collecting new and gently used shoes about three weeks ago for children and teens who can’t afford nice shoes. As the owner of SwimBikeRun running specialty store, he set an original goal of collecting 200 shoes by this past Saturday, but when donations reached nearly 300 pair, he decided to extend the deadline until Sept. 6.
It all started when a close family friend and shoe-shopper, who is a teacher at Statesboro High School, stopped by his store.
“She commented that she couldn’t believe some of the shoes that kids were wearing when they showed up to a cross-country meet,” Borowski said. “Someone wore high-top tennis shoes. Just imagine what that runner could accomplish with a decent pair of shoes.”
With just word of mouth by way of friends, shoppers and his social media, piles of shoes now fill his storage room. Borowski hopes to work with schools to help distribute the shoes to those who need them.
With a conversation about kids in need and a store that specializes in running paraphernalia, Borowski first began collecting athletic shoes.
“When someone called and asked if I was taking regular shoes, I changed my plans. That opened up the flood-gates. I just want to make a difference.”
Borowski shares on his social media that anyone who donates even one pair of shoes will be placed in a drawing for a free pair of running shoes from his store. For years, Borowski has used social media, posting brief videos each day, to disseminate information about SwimBikeRun sales or promotions, to talk about running events that he takes part in, to encourage community involvement or to share positive messages with viewers.
“At the end of every video, I say these three things: ‘Shop local; support your community; make a difference.’
“I’m a giver,” he said. “I will always give back. That’s my motto here.”
After seven years of being in business, Borowski is making plans to rebrand, with a grand re-opening celebration on Sept. 24, from 5 to 8 p.m.
“We wanted to keep the SBR – we’ve been known as SBR Nation for a long time,” said Borowski. “But we need to get out of the bike business and focus on running, so our new name is Statesboro’s Best Running.”
Borowski said the infiltration of the green scooters last school year altered his bike sales completely, necessitating the change.
Borowski became passionate about running when he lost a great deal of weight and started a healthier lifestyle after his now 14-year-old son, Aaron, was born. Borowski, married for five years to Erin, is the father of 2-year-old twins, Forrest and Fisher.
Borowski is excited about the store’s new focus and remains positive about his business.
“I’m living a great life. Dreams. Faith. Hard work. With those three, pretty extraordinary things can happen to pretty average people.”
Borowski said he looks forward to helping out kids in need of shoes with the donations he’s received.
“If I can make a kid smile, that’s going to be the best,” he said.
To donate new or gently-used shoes of any sizes or types, drop them off at the SwimBikeRun store on Bermuda Run, next to Mellow Mushroom restaurant before the deadline on Friday, Sept. 6.