Skechers and its 11th annual Pier-to-Pier Friendship walkathon kicked off — and ended — on high notes last Sunday. The Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based brand raised more than $2.27 million for children with special needs and education — including the Friendship Foundation, a charity dedicated to facilitating friendships between teen volunteers and children with special needs. The organization also supports educational programs for schools around the South Bay area.
“America’s Got Talent” winner Kodi Lee, a blind and autistic singer who won this season’s competition, entertained the walkers with a medley of hit songs before the 3.4-mile walk around Manhattan Beach Pier began. More star power came from Skechers’ longtime ambassadors, boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard and fitness guru Denise Austin, who helped lead the parade of walkers.
“This year, we have over 15,000 virtual and registered walkers,” said Skechers president Michael Greenberg, who added that at its inception, the walkathon attracted 1,200 participants. “It’s the largest walk in the nation of its kind for children with special needs and education. This is something special and that’s why it continues to grow.”
Greenberg said that the charity walk has raised $13 million over the years.
“There are 10 school districts in the South Bay, with 40 Friendship Clubs throughout those school districts,” he explained. “The money supports science, physical education, music. We save teachers’ jobs; we expand libraries. We do so many things on a constant basis with the significant funds we raise.”
The footwear company’s charity event has experienced significant gains in tandem with its business. “Skechers has become the third-largest footwear company in the world,” Greenberg said. “We continue to grow internationally, which represents 56% of the business. We have nearly 3,500 Skechers-branded stores around the world and continue to do what we do best — create great shoes and attach great marketing.”
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