Family Focus: Woman organizes barefoot 5K to benefit nonprofit

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte woman is recruiting people for a charity 5K to help children.

What's different about this race is that people will run barefoot.

As Joanna Gammon spent a windy morning going for a run in Frazier Park, she was feeling a little chillier because she was making her strides minus her shoes.

“The symbolic representation of what I'm doing, the pain for one day is worth it,” she said.

Gammon was practicing for a race she organized to help Charlotte kids -- an idea that started as a way to celebrate her 30th birthday.

“I wanted to do something big and different and bold, and I wanted to help people, and I wanted some kind of health, athletic component to this,” Gammon said.

Gammon created Joanna's Barefoot 30, a 5K benefiting Samaritan's Feet. The Charlotte nonprofit provides shoes to children in need locally and across the world.

“A pair of shoes that we take for granted every day when we put our heels on, when we go to work. A pair of shoes to children gives them opportunity, opens up new doors,” Gammon said.

Gammon started a website and Facebook page. Each participant will pay $30 to run on April 13.

“I will run this barefoot, but it's not a requirement,” Gammon said. “I am asking people, if they feel comfortable, to take their shoes off and run barefooted with me."

Gammon hopes to make this birthday celebration a tradition for years to come, in which people give up an everyday comfort to help a child.

“These are children around the world that walk every day like this,” Gammon said. “And it's amazing what they go through, and one day, for 30 minutes, that's nothing.”

Gammon said 100 percent of the proceeds from her Barefoot 5K will stay in Charlotte to help kids get shoes here.

To sign up for Joanna's Barefoot 30, here is her Facebook page. You can also sign up on her website.