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Donation Benefits EPCHS Cross Country Team

Cross country runners at Evergreen Park Community High School have a greater chance at success after a generous donation from a west suburban-based non-profit organization. 

The Winged Foot Foundation, based in Naperville, recently donated several shoes, racing spokes and other running apparel to the EPCHS athletic department. First-year EPCHS Head Cross Country Coach Pat Doran said the donations amount to about $14,000 worth of goods. 

Winged Foot Foundation is the brainchild of Mitch Johnston, who says its mission is simple. 

“We assist student athletes in cross country and track and field to get to that next level of education, or trade school,” Johnston said. “We believe the life lessons learned in team sports like these are so valuable to help students excel in college and beyond.” 

The non-profit has donated equipment to 87 schools since it was founded in 2004, Johnston said. 

A former Thornton High School cross country runner, Johnston began the foundation after donating 30 pairs of shoes to coaches at a Thornton triangular meet in 2004. Back then, Johnston said many athletic programs in the area were struggling due to budget cuts, and the Thornridge High School coach at the time told him, “what we are really in need of is good running shoes.” 

The shoes donated by the foundation include the top brands, including Nike, Adidas and Brooks, helping young athletes “run well and stay healthy,” he said. Winged Foot is run by all volunteers, many former athletes themselves seeking a continued connection with the sport. 

Johnston was connected to EPCHS through the cross country coach at nearby Eisenhower High School, whose athletes have benefitted from the program for years. The program has benefited thousands, including Big Ten 200 meters champion Tim Faust of Ohio State and NCAA Division I jumps champion Will Williams of Texas A&M, among others. 

“We’ve seen a lot of success stories across the board,” Johnston said. “The reward for us is seeing these athletes’ accomplishments and helping out their coaches.” 

Doran, in particular, has “an incredible passion for the sport,” he added. 

Doran said "Mitch has been nothing short of amazing."

"Mitch and his wife Karen donate a lot of their time, and put in a lot of effort to make sure athletes in Illinois have the proper gear. We had one or two athletes who had cross country spikes. Now we have 25 runners who have spikes. They are great people, doing great things." 

Donate To Winged Foot Foundation 

Donations to the Winged Foot Foundation can be made online, at www.wingedfootfoundation.org. There’s a tab on the website to donate electronically via credit card, and a tax-deductible receipt will be immediately available.