Balega International, the performance sock brand for runners, presented its annual Ubuntu Award for community service to Carol Stream, IL-based Dick Pond Athletics during The 2018 Running Event (TRE) in Austin, Texas on November 29, 2018.

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 Sheila Pond, specialty retailer Dick Pond Athletics received this prestigious award to recognize and acknowledge the store’s Special Needs Running Club program to help adults with disabilities.

“We were proud to present the Ubuntu Award to Dick Pond Athletics for their Special Needs Running Club,” said Tanya Pictor, vice president of Balega and FuelBelt Marketing. “Kirsten and her team introduced running to a community of special needs adults but then took it one step further by getting them fitted in proper footwear, and helped them all complete a progressive marathon in September. The long reaching benefits of this program embody the spirit of Ubuntu.”

“It has been a true honor for Dick Pond Athletics to be recognized in receiving the Balega Ubuntu award at this year’s Running Event,” said Kirsten Pond, general manager of Dick Pond Athletics. “By embracing the spirit of Ubuntu and welcoming all with our Special Needs Running Club, it has been a great pleasure helping improve so many lives through walking and running. Going in to our 50th year of business, we are very proud of our company’s mission: through community relationships and service, we can make a huge impact on people’s lives.”

In 1969, Dick Pond, an accomplished high school distance runner and All-American from Western Michigan University, wanted to offer quality running shoes at an affordable price and exceptional customer service. This remains the mission of the business today, which has five retail locations, four traveling ‘shoemobiles,’ and a mail order business.