CEDAR RAPIDS — Iowa Running Company was transformed into a barbershop last week as the two owners shaved their beards — as promised — for surpassing their goal of donating 250 pairs of socks to Willis Dady Homeless Services.
In October, Clifton Trebil-Smith and Jim Dwyer, co-owners of Iowa Running Company at 1000 Third St. in Cedar Rapids, offered a challenge to their customers: If you buy 150 pairs of socks in October, we’ll match that and donate the socks to Willis Dady. They called it “Socktober.”
The business partners realized they were quickly going to surpass their initial goal of 150 pairs of socks. They upped the ante: 250 pairs of socks and they shave their beards.
Trebil-Smith proposed the idea to Dwyer as a joke, thinking they would never reach that goal.
“I did not expect it to be even a conversation,” Trebil-Smith said. “We set the goal for 150, and I thought that was going to be a challenge in itself. With 10 days left (of October), we were at 120. We had a long ways to go to get to 250.”
By the end of the month, their customers had purchased total of 303 pairs of socks, including a donation of 25 pairs from Tyler Morey, Iowa Running Company’s Balega International socks representative.
The socks are the same technology runners look for, Dwyer said: moisture wicking, blister preventing and odor resisting.
“What you have provided are high-quality socks to those who endure way more suffering than any run or race we’ve ever done,” Iowa Running Company posted on their Facebook page.
Denine Rushing, shelter manager at Willis Dady, said Iowa Running Company’s efforts will greatly benefit Willis Dady’s clients, who are either riding public transportation or walking in the winter to get to their destination.
“For them, to have a pair of socks each day can make a difference in keeping them warm and keeping them going out in the elements as they go to work, go to appointments or get the kids to school,” Rushing said.
Rushing said in addition to socks, Iowa Running Company has donated shoes and shoe cushions to Willis Dady in the past.
Getting his beard shaved last Wednesday evening with a crowd of a couple dozen people celebrating the donation to Willis Dady was tough, Trebil-Smith said.
The runner has had his beard for four years. He worried his 1-year-old son wouldn’t recognize him without it.
Dwyer, on the other hand, wasn’t as concerned. Although he had his beard for a decade and was “born with a beard,” he expects it to grow back quickly.
“Never underestimate the power of a good cause and the running community’s vendetta against our beards,” Dwyer said.
Giving back to the community is a “key tenet” of their small business, which opened in March 2017, Dwyer said.
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The running and walking community is supportive. Dwyer said when he races, he will see an elite runner cross the finish line and continue to encourage runners “at the back of the pack.”
“It’s a one-for-all, all-for-one mentality,” he said.
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