Martinez family creates 'running shoe' charity drive

Tuesday, November 27, 2018 0 Comments

Martinez family creates 'running shoe' charity drive

Orestes Martinez is an avid runner who has participated in many races both in South Florida and internationally. However, while running the Marabana race in Cuba last year with his mother Georgina Martinez, they both noticed there seemed to be something missing for Cuban citizens.

“They run right next to you and say ‘how are you doing?’ In this broken English, and then eventually the conversation always lead back to ‘can I have your shoes today or after the race?’ And I would tell them the same thing my mom told them, which is I don’t have shoes with me,” explained Martinez. “It inspired me because I realized there was a need here. It hit us both at the same time, like let’s do this.”

Martinez’s father passed away on Valentine’s Day in 2010 due to complications from Peripheral Artery Disease. Before his passing, Orestes Martinez Sr. needed to amputate everything below his left knee. Orestes was influenced by his father when naming his charity, El Pie de Papá (Papa’s foot, in Spanish.)

The idea for the nonprofit came to Martinez during the Emmaus retreat in April. There, he realized how he can help both the people of Cuba and honor his father’s memory. By July, Martinez was in the beginning stages of starting his charity. However, it wasn’t until his father’s birthday on September third that he, his mother and Patricia “Speedy” Barry founded El Pie de Papá Running Ministries.

Martinez used to coach the Runners Club at Palm Springs North Elementary School alongside Barry. When Martinez left to teach at West Hialeah Gardens Elementary School, Barry took over as head coach and renamed the team the PSN Roadrunners. The team was very successful until this past year when she retired. In addition to being second vice president to El Pie de Papá Running Ministries,  she is also a world traveler. Which in turn, lead her to run with the Martinezes at the Marabana race that started it all.

Martinez was also inspired by Miami Lakes K-8 teacher, Alexis Garcia. The educator ran across Cuba in 2015, documenting his adventures and donating hundreds of shoes to needy Cuban children.

“I had no idea about the need there is in Cuba for shoes or running shoes. He’d (Garcia) tell me, and say ‘I’m going to take some shoes’ and I was like ‘okay, cool’ but I didn’t realize what was going on until I went there,” explained Martinez.

Although Martinez and his family currently live in Sunrise, his mother is a Miami Lakes resident of 17 years. Additionally, Martinez keeps tabs on the town while participating in the local running group, Miami Fit.

“I talked to Katrina and Eddie Vera, and they allowed me to tell the entire group,” he recalled. “The next time I went running I came back with like 10 pairs of shoes. That was amazing.”

Along with shoes donated by teachers at his current school, St. Thomas Aquinas High School, and donations from Runners Depot and Foot Works, El Pie de Papá Running Ministries now holds 50 donated shoes in their inventory, and hopes to grow that number once their website goes live.

Martinez plans on distributing the shoes personally to runners in this year’s Marabana race in November. He also hopes to establish a connection with La Inmaculada Catholic Church in Cuba to house and distribute the shoes as well.

In the meantime, anyone interested in donating are asked to contact Martinez at (305)505-5637 or email Although all shoes are accepted (women, children and men) there is currently a need for men’s running shoes.


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