Ms Viv Kartsounis, founder of the charitable organisation, Shoes for Planet Earth, will be Cowra Shire’s Australia Day Ambassador for 2024.
“We are excited to welcome Ms Kartsounis to our beautiful Shire and hear her inspirational story of changing the lives of people in need through the gift of a pair of shoes,” said Chair of Cowra’s Australia Day Committee, Cr Cheryl Downing.
Originally from South Africa, Ms Kartsounis has run competitively since childhood and describes running as part of her ‘life and her being’. After immigrating to Australia in 2002, she discovered a passion for ultra-running. Her achievements include running for Australia as part of the national women’s 100km running team.
It was after a trip back to poverty-stricken areas in South Africa in 2009, that the idea of establishing a charity to provide running shoes to those in need, was born.
“Our first box of shoes went to runners in South Africa but we soon realised that the high cost of international shipping was more than we could afford,” Ms Kartsounis said.
“Rather than abandon our vision we “looked local” to see if there was a need for shoes amongst the needy and homeless in Sydney and throughout Australia. We have never looked back,” she said.
Since its establishment in 2009, Shoes for Planet Earth has made an extraordinary impact by donating over 100,000 pairs of sports shoes to people in need across Australia. This charitable initiative believes in changing lives by improving physical and mental health through the simple act of providing shoes. Their approach involves the engagement of individuals, schools and organisations to collect and distribute the shoes, fostering community involvement.
Despite challenges like quality control and funding constraints, their dedication as volunteers continues.
As Cowra’s local Australia Day Ambassador, Ms Kartsounis will be attending many of the Australia Day celebrations scheduled for Friday 26 January in Cowra. For information on all the events happening in Cowra this Australia Day, visit cowracouncil.com.au/Community/Australia-Day-in-Cowra. More information about Shoes for Planet Earth can be found at shoesforplanetearth.com.
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