Performance sock brand Balega International presented its annual Ubuntu Award for community service to Oak Park, IL-based Lively Athletics during The 2017 Running Event (TRE) in Austin, TX on November 30, 2017.

Since the inception of TRE, Balega has presented the Ubuntu Award annually to running specialty stores that excel in community service and involvement. Ubuntu originated in Africa and roughly translates to “human kindness.” The term, popularized by Nelson Mandela, translates as “I am a person through other people,” meaning only by banding together as a community and working together can we truly call ourselves human.

The Ubuntu Award recognizes thoughtful actions that have long lasting effects on the lives of people in local communities. Independently owned by sisters Anne Pezalla and Kate Pezalla Marlin, specialty retailer Lively Athletics received this prestigious award to acknowledge their involvement in local activism, their donation of free shoes to underserved children, their participation in improving the health of their community and the active role they play in their village.

“This year, we selected a store with owners who are making a difference in their community by fighting for their beliefs on issues that affect all people,” said Tanya Pictor, vice president of marketing at Implus Specialty. “Anne and Kate are using their business to affect positive change and enrich their community. This is the spirit of Ubuntu.”

“We are so proud to bring this award home,” said Lively Athletics co-owner Anne Pezalla. “Lively is family-owned and truly and fiercely independent. Kate and I grew up here and now we are raising our families and building our business here. We love our community and do all we can to support our local schools and charities.”

Lively Athletics is an inclusive space for female athletes of all abilities, as they believe strongly in the powerful, life-changing communities that running can foster. Lively opened in 2014 and has received numerous awards and accolades, including being named one of Chicago’s Top 10 Running Stores by Time Out Chicago and “Anthropologie for Athletes” by Racked Chicago, receiving the Fitzsimmons Award for Public Health, and a Spotlight Award from the Oak Park Chamber of Commerce, and awarded the Best Overall Business in Oak Park.

Photo courtesy Balega