Our mission at Balega is to help build closer, caring communities. While we strive to accomplish this through providing socks that help runners perform at their personal peak, we also seek to further the Ubuntu spirit through giving back and encouraging others to do the same.
One way we support community service is through giving the Ubuntu Award each year at The Running Event (TRE). Since TRE’s inception, we’ve given this award annually to running specialty stores that excel in community service and involvement. We are thrilled to bestow this year’s Ubuntu Award for community service to Lively Athletics. We presented the award during TRE in Austin, Texas on November 30, 2017.
The Ubuntu Award recognizes thoughtful actions that touch the lives of people in local communities. ‘Ubuntu’ is a South African word meaning “humanity.” Originating from Zulu and Xhosa languages, it is also translated as “humanity towards others,” and is often used in the philosophical sense to mean “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.” Nelson Mandela popularized the term, using it to mean “I am a person through other people.” Only by banding together as a community and working together can be truly call ourselves human.
Lively Athletics foments an inclusive space for female athletes of all abilities. Co-owners and sisters Anne and Kate Pezalla fervently believe that running can foster powerful, life-changing communities. Since opening in 2014, Lively 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.
“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,” say 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.”
Among its numerous community service efforts, Lively runs a Ca$h for Cleats program, in which the store buys and picks up used kids’ cleats to give to children in need. Lively also hosts the GOvember Challenge each November. The event includes three different running challenges which encourage runners to explore Oak Park by foot just as the days grow darker and colder and runners typically start losing motivation.
“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.”