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By Anne Allred

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - A piece of the war zone in Afghanistan was given as a show of gratitude to a West St. Louis County business owner.

Navy Lt. Rebecca Root presented the owner of Fleet Feet, a running shoe company, with a flag flown outside a rehab center in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The company, along with Wounded Warriors, has sent hundreds of pairs of gym shoes to injured troops at the facility over the past three years.

Lt. Root, a physical therapist at the rehab center, says most of the troops come in with combat boots or no shoes at all because they lost them in battle.

"Once they have the shoes they're able to get on the stationary bike, walk on the elliptical, start to do some weight bearing on the legs and really participate fully in a rehab program," she said.

Fleet Feet owner David Spetnagel said he was honored to receive the flag. When asked what his feelings are about his charitable work, he said, "It's kind of a two-edged sword. It feels good to be doing something to help what little we can but then again it feels bad that it's necessary."

But in the meantime, Spetnagel plans to keep sending gym shoes overseas almost every week.

"Right now we're getting ready to ramp up shipments again because the fighting starts in the spring. And that's when the shoes are needed more than in the winter months, when the bad guys go back over the mountains," Spetnagel said.

Fleet Feet has donated more than $60,000 in gym shoes to U.S. troops in rehab overseas.