Visit an elementary school playground on any given day and look to the faces of the children running. More often than not, one will find the child subconsciously grinning as they do so. Whether running to reach a friend or chase a soccer ball, children run for fun.
Fleet Feet Sports Stockton owner Tony Vice is passionate about many things, among them kids and running.
A passion for running so strong, that he became the owner/operator of the 277 Lincoln Center, Stockton, Fleet Feet location 10 years ago. He has been actively engaging with both the local business and running communities ever since.
As testament to this, the local business sponsors a number of annual races. It would also only seem fitting that he supports Youth Run Clubs in the Stockton area, as well.
“Any school that has a youth running program, we’ll help them out. I don’t care if they run,” Vice said of the youth club members. “Just that they’re out there moving and having fun.
“These kids are great,” he added. “You get them out for running club and they don’t care who’s the fastest or who finishes last. They just have fun.”
John Muir Elementary School mom and running club parent coach Jenni Jimenez echoed Vice’s sentiments.
“It’s just cool to see the kids active,” she said. “They’re so dedicated and they really enjoy it.”
Jimenez pioneered the John Muir Elementary Running Club in 2013. Since its inception it has grown to 150 student participants, with more still expressing interest.
“We meet once a week before or after school depending on the season,” Jimenez said of the student runners. “This is 100 percent voluntary for the students. They run two to three miles beginning at the levee.”
Jimenez noted the local Fleet Feet as the only running affiliated store.
“We would not have thought to reach out, had he not been so active in the community,” she said.
As part of his partnership with schools and their running clubs, Vice visits the campuses to measure each runner’s feet, then returns with the appropriate shoe for their individual needs.
Significant discounts are offered for any student interested in purchasing shoes through the running club and Fleet Feet Stockton.
“They have the option to be fit,” Jimenez said of the Fleet Feet service. “On average he fit about 50 of our runners this year. He also offers discounted entry fees for the run club kids to run races.
“It just feels good to watch your kids do something they love,” Jimenez said of the youth runners and their dedication.
John Muir running club had a large presence at the 2014 Run and Walk Against Hunger.
“Kids are always what grabs my heart,” Vice stated, “all the time. This is why we’re so involved with that race and the food bank.
“It’s about complete not compete,” Vice said of the philosophy he shares with young runners. “Anything that helps them start a healthy lifestyle. We just happen to love running. The most important thing is having fun. That they’re all out there and with families, that’s all the better.”