The annual Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk was back on the beach after going virtual last year amid safety precautions due to COVID-19.
Now in its 13th year, the fundraiser organized by the Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based brand returned to an in-person event on Oct. 24 and raised over $2.6 million that will help children with special needs through a partnership with the Friendship Foundation, an organization that facilitates friendships between teen volunteers and children with special needs through confidence-building activities. The mission also supports educational programs for schools around the South Bay area.
Last year, taking the cause online presented some challenges that Skechers had to navigate. “It made raising money probably more difficult. But again, we just figured out ways to continue to connect with the sponsors and the residents in the community,” said Skechers president Michael Greenberg. “But once you find the new direction as to how to reach out, people are quick to give in support, and that’s what’s been taking place.”
In 2020, the event raised more than $1.5 million. For Greenberg, pivoting the annual fundraiser through the pandemic presented many learnings.
“I think the lessons that we should take from what we’ve been through as a world for nearly two years now is that in our busy lives, we go through life with blinders on. But we need to be more aware every day and we need to show more care and more compassion and more love.”
For its 2021 event, Skechers secured Kinecta Federal Credit Union as a multiyear presenting sponsor. The Friendship Walk is also supported by more than 100 other companies, including Nickelodeon and United Legwear & Apparel.
With over 15,000 registered participants this year, the walk continued to offer a virtual component via livestream to help engage a broad audience in addition, while also reuniting the community in-person.
Skechers ambassadors Brooke Burke, Sugar Ray Leonard and Meb Keflezighi led the 3.4-mile walk from the Manhattan Beach Pier to the Hermosa Beach Pier and back.
Since its inception in 2009, the event has raised more than $17 million.