Better Winnipeg: Passion for fitness inspires grassroots drive for shoes

WINNIPEG — As children growing up, Allison Gervais and Andrea Katz were always involved in various physical activities. They’ve always led an active lifestyle.

Using their passion for fitness and social media savvy, the Winnipeg sisters have kickstarted a drive to collect gently used running shoes.

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“Part of our mission for our business is to spread the word of health everyday and we do that through social media,” says Gervais. “We believe in physical activity, fitness and sport improving girls’ self-esteem and confidence, and overall health for their lives. That’s our passion.”

Throughout the month of March, the owners of Fit Communications, a local marketing and communications company, are on a mission to collect one hundred pairs of runners through their Runner Roundup campaign.

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Word began to spread through their personal and professional connections online, and continues to gain traction on social media.

“We’ve actually had some people get involved and help us spread the work who we don’t even know and that’s when it gets really exciting,” says Katz. “The fact that so many people have been willing to jump on board with this has been amazing.”

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The women brought a local fitness company on board as well. Three Snap Fitness locations; two in Winnipeg and one in Selkirk are being used as drop-off sites for shoes. Those centres have also pitched-in with their own contribution, offering free enrollment and a one month membership for every person who receives a pair of donated runners.

Natalie Reimer Anderson is a friend of Gervais and Katz. She says donating a pair of running shoes so someone else can benefit is a small gesture but one that she feels passionate about.

“It’s really important in my life to be active and to be fit. I know that it’s enhanced my health tremendously so to think that I can do something as simple as give a pair of shoes and that can maybe remove a roadblock for someone in their life, that’s a privilege.”

The Runner Roundup drive winds up at the end of March. The shoes will then be turned over to Helping Hands, a clothing donation centre, which will distribute the footwear to various women’s shelters and local aid organizations.

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Snap Fitness drop-off locations:

Osborne Village (206 Osborne St.)

St. Boniface (249 St. Mary’s Rd.)

Selkirk (379 Main St., Selkirk)

For more information about Runner Roundup, contact Andrea Katz at

Better Winnipeg is a weekly feature that focuses on people and events that make Winnipeg better. If you have suggestions for stories, send them to

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