A unique and charitable sole

Local student designs sneaker to benefit Boston Children’s Hospital

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 9/23/21

Ela Pirri has grown up a lot since she first started raising money for Boston Children’s Hospital through the “Miles for Miracles” effort back in 2018. She’s a poised …

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A unique and charitable sole

Local student designs sneaker to benefit Boston Children’s Hospital

Posted

Ela Pirri has grown up a lot since she first started raising money for Boston Children’s Hospital through the “Miles for Miracles” effort back in 2018. She’s a poised seventh-grader now, a student at Kickemuit Middle School. Some things have not changed, though — she’s still a dedicated soccer player, on both her school and travel team, and she still takes every opportunity she can to give back to Boston Children’s Hospital.

Her most recent fundraising effort for the hospital stems from her participation in the “Saucony Run for Good Children’s Program”, an international campaign that lets kids design a signature sneaker while raising money for children’s hospitals.

Ela was born with Radial Ray Duane’s Anomaly, a congenital birth defect caused by mutations in the SALL4 gene. As a result, her hands are positioned at a near-right angle relative to her forearms. Ela has learned to make accommodations, thanks to both her determination and the efforts of Dr. Peter Waters, a pediatric orthopedic specialist whom Ela and her parents, Julie and Robert, credit with Ela’s great success.

Saucony emailed Boston Children’s Hospital, as well as hospitals in Canada, Atlanta, and New Orleans to get their featured sneaker designer/muses. Throughout the pandemic Ela met with engineers and designers via Zoom. They got to know her, asked her what she liked, her favorite colors and sports. Though her mother Julie admits Ela’s evolving style has gone a little monochromatic since those conversations began, the end result is exciting and dynamic — and they put the pattern on a pair of shorts too.

The sneaker line was released Sept. 8; Ela’s model is the Ela Ride 14 — her soccer jersey number and her birthday. It retails for $130, and Saucony sends a percentage of the proceeds from each sale to Boston Children’s Hospital.

On Oct. 11, Ela and her family will be back in Boston, cheering for “her” marathon runner — who this year will be competing in a pair of Saucony Ela Ride 14s. Ela’s got her own pair to match, of course. (Actually, it’s her second pair — her first was eaten by her puppy).

To learn more about the initiative, visit www.saucony.com/en/rfgchildrensprogram/#boston, where Ela has a bio that tells her story and the story behind her design: “Ela always strives to make others feel confident and valued for ‘what’s on the inside.’ Her Ride 14 and Outpace 3” Short sport a bold graphic pattern that will stand out just like Ela does on the soccer field.”

“They are selling, which is great,” said Julie.

“It was really fun,” said Ela, of her stint as a sneaker designer. It’s probably not going to be her career path, though. A great student whose favorite subject is science, Ela plans to be a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, like her hero, Dr. Peter Waters.

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