How Share the Spirit Foundation was Formed

History Photo Spread

Meet Tonya Voepel and sister-in-law, Karen Voepel, founders of Share the Spirit Foundation.  Here is their story: 

In 2002, approximately 2000 individuals embarked on a walk from Boulder, Colorado to Denver, taking part in the Avon Breast Cancer three-day walk to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer. Tonya and Karen successfully completed the 60-mile challenge, raising more than $5,000. 

Encouraged by overwhelming support from friends and family, 2003 marked the inauguration of the talked-about dream on their long walk. After all those miles walked, it was clear shoes would be the right fit for their new-found collaboration. Their mission?  To ensure underprivileged children had new shoes on their feet. Together they came up with a plan focusing on their communities in Colorado and Illinois. Their idea was to partner with schools and community organizations, give children a personal one-on-one experience, and rally volunteers of all ages to join their endeavor and to have fun… thus the name “Share the Spirit.”

But how to raise money? There was no hesitation their fundraising efforts should be created around delicious food and drinks such as olive oil tastings, southern fare tastings, the best of the west tastings, wine and beer tastings, all of these parlaying into their signature fundraiser “Sip and Savor.”  

Being a small organization, STS is driven by compassion. Proudly operating as an "all-volunteer" group, they achieved a significant milestone in 2023 by fulfilling their goal of providing over 20,000 pair of new shoes to children and families in need.  But it won’t stop there… With a well-established board and remarkable assistance from volunteers, they persist in providing new shoes and socks to the less fortunate.