Josué and I are so excited, the big day is almost here! The other evening we had a Skype conference call with NDI, the organization that helps to co-produce the Calzado 5K, and Tabatha was telling us that several of the local children, due to excitement about the race, have been eagerly training for their big day. As many of you may know, the Calzado 5K is a Fuego y Agua event that aims to donate free running shoes to local children of Ometepe, and then with NDI's help, produces an invigorating 5K race that they can all participate in. Our goal is to help promote awareness for a healthy lifestyle and running as a form of enjoyable fitness.

I still remember the first time we organized the Calzado 5K: we had children showing up to run in everything from flip flops, to tight leather shoes that looked like they had been resuscitated out of an old, dusty box. As you can imagine, good quality running shoes are a rare and expensive commodity there. That is why it is so important to the children that we bring running shoes to their race.

This year we are expecting over 400 children! To make this race happen we really need help from every FYA friend we have. Our biggest challenge, surprisingly, is not finding 400 pairs of shoes, but rather transporting 400 pairs of shoes to the island. Over the years we have been trying to discover an effective method to transport such a high volume of shoes, but so far we have not found a feasible solution.

The true success of this endeavor lies in every member of the FYA family pitching in. If each runner and volunteer could bring anywhere from 10 - 15 pairs of new or gently used running shoes we could easily reach 400 pairs of shoes, and bring much excitement to hundreds of children!

I would like to extend my deep gratitude to all of those who have already pledge to bring many more pairs of shoes than this; we are extremely grateful.

We also accept donations to sponsor the kids race, and to help pay for the over-sized baggage fees and shipping costs that we find ourselves battling with as we try to transport large amounts of shoes. Donations can be made at our Registration Page.

I have many happy memories of last year's Calzado 5K. I remember seeing several runners and volunteers excitedly pointing as children would saunter by in a pair of shoes they had personally donated for the race. Or how when the number of shoes available started to get a bit low, we had a few runners who in a beautiful act of kindness donated shoes right off their very own feet! As you can see, Fuego y Agua is much more than a race. It is a community of athletes and friends who hold a strong belief in running for greater causes.

So please join in and help us organize a great race for the children of Ometepe this year! To learn more about the Calzado 5K and what you can do to help please visit our Calzado 5K page on our website.

Josué and I look forward to meeting (or re-greeting) each of you in a few weeks time.

— Paula

*Photos courtesy of John Frierson Photography