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GIVING BACK: Lake Placid Marathon donates shoes to health care workers

Runners finish the 2019 Lake Placid Marathon and Half at the Olympic Speedskating Oval. (News photo — Justin Levine)

LAKE PLACID — The Lake Placid Marathon and Half is helping local health care workers and first responders with an essential piece of their wardrobe during the COVID-19 pandemic: footwear.

Greg Borzilleri, owner of the Lake Placid Marathon and Half, recently ordered 142 pairs of Skechers shoes through The Fallen Arch in Lake Placid, a retail value of $10,847. They will be donated to workers at health care facilities such as Adirondack Health — which operates the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid Health and Medical Fitness Center — and the Elderwood of Uihlein at Lake Placid nursing home. Donations will also be made to local ambulance services such as those in Lake Placid, Keene, Keene Valley and Saranac Lake.

While there haven’t been a lot of COVID-19 cases in the Tri-Lakes, Borzilleri said the shoe donations are designed to help lower-income workers — not doctors — if and when the hospital begins treating more cases.

“If it hits the fan, there’s going to be a lot of stress and there’s going to be a lot of people that are working there that maybe can’t afford to take care of themselves, but they’re going to going to be taking care of other people,” Borzilleri said.

Borzilleri approached one of the marathon’s sponsors, The Fallen Arch shoe store on Main Street, to help with the project. Co-owner Gail Joseph found a good deal on Skechers shoes.

“I contacted my rep at Skechers, and he was good enough to help us out and get us some great pricing,” Joseph said. “I think it’s great that Greg thought about it. They’re the guys that clean and get everything ready so that the nurses and doctors do what they need to do.

“We’re talking about footwear that’s going to keep them comfortable and well cushioned. They spend a lot of time on their feet, so hopefully this will help out.”

Hannah Hanford, executive director at the Adirondack Health Foundation in Saranac Lake, helped identify the workers who could use the shoe donations.

“Greg called us and said he was thinking of some way that he could support the amazing people who work at Adirondack Health, and in particular those who are on their feet all day,” Hanford said.

Borzilleri sent Hanford the types of shoes that were available from Skechers for workers such as nurses, nurse aides, food service workers and environmental service workers.

“My job was to send out a blast to staff, let me know if you are interested, what size shoe you have, which of the styles you’d like and where you work,” Hanford said. “I know that there will be a mountain of running shoes arriving at some point in the near future, and we’ll have a lot of smiles here.”

Hanford sent Borzilleri a list of 50 names for the donations from that first email blast.

“I was trying to think, ‘What can I do that would make an impact,'” Borzilleri said.

Financial support for this project has also come from the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort in Lake Placid, MVP Health Care and BlueShield of Northeastern New York.

As of press time Wednesday, April 15, the Lake Placid Marathon and Half was still scheduled for Sunday, June 14. Borzilleri said he is exploring alternative dates with local officials in case he has to postpone the race.