Dozens of track runners from Central Islip Senior High School were outfitted with thousands of dollars worth of free sneakers Monday, courtesy of a donation from a local running club.
The Greater Long Island Running Club, which has 4,600 members across the Island, paid about $7,000 for 90 pairs of running shoes for the district's boys' and girls' team members.
The Sayville Running Co. was packed Monday morning as runners filed off yellow school buses and made their way into the storefront on Main Street in Sayville for a fitting. Each student was able to choose one pair, up to $120 each, from about 60 styles of shoes.
"We're a very profitable nonprofit that fortunately doesn't have the high overhead costs," said Mike Polansky, the running club's president. "Every year we try to do something when we can, and here there's just a simple need for it."
More than 75 percent of the Central Islip school district's 7,000-plus students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, according to the New York State Education Department Report Card from 2011-12, the latest data available. It is classified as a "high need/resource" district.
The two captains of the boys' team, Livingstone Harriott, 16, and Kevin Mowatt, 17, explained how difficult it is for some families to afford the footwear.
"A lot of the kids show up to practice in soccer and basketball shoes because they just don't have anything better," Harriott said. "This is a really nice thing for them to do for us."
Mowatt, who picked out a size 12 pair of blue and white Asics HyperSprints, said he'll be replacing his year-old, worn-out shoes.
"It's good timing," he said with a smile.
Now, the boys' track team has the equipment to match their talent, coach Christian Pisano said, as they ready for the Penn Relays at the University of Pennsylvania in April.
"A lot of these kids are new to running and they can't even comprehend what a good shoe will do for their performance," Pisano said. "Thanks to the running club, we're ready to compete."