WATCH: Space Coast Sports Ambassador Mike Acosta Parlays Addiction of Running into Philanthropic Endeavors
By Space Coast Daily // March 24, 2020
2019 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: 2019 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Sports Ambassador Mike Acosta’s passion for running and giving inspired him to found the Power of Pizza Charities.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA (Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame) – Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame 2019 Sports Ambassador Viera Pizza’s Mike Acosta believes in three things: family, hard work and giving back.
As for the family aspect, Acosta adores his wife Shay and their four children. Xavier, 7, Urijah, 5, and Zoey, 2, are his pride and joy. His stepson, Shane Crocker is his right-hand man at Viera Pizza.
Acosta took his new-found addiction of running which he caught from local runner Brittany Streufert, combined it with his dedication to his business and passion to give and founded the non-profit Power of Pizza Charities, which hosts a full schedule of fundraising events.
After six successful Eat My Crust 5K events and through the Power of Pizza Charities, Acosta and Streufert have donated more than $130,000 to the Viera High School athletic department, Special Olympics of Brevard County, The Early Steps program and Calvary Chapel’s 412 Youth Missions Outreach.
Acosta’s roots in the restaurant business come from his father, Roberto, who came to the United States in the early 1970s from Mexico to play jai alai when the sport was very popular in the sunshine state.
When his jai alai career was over, the elder Acosta began working at Christy’s Pizza in Cocoa where he would meet Mike’s mom, Debbie. The Acostas eventually purchased the Cocoa pizzeria, as well as a location in Merritt Island.
“I learned a lot from my dad,” said Acosta. “Not only is that where some of my recipes come from, but it’s also where I learned to connect with the community.”
A 1996 graduate of Merritt Island High, Acosta gained his independence in the pizza business when he began working at Sbarro Italian Eatery at the Merritt Square mall.
During this time, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration focusing on hospitality management from UCF.
In 2004 Acosta was hired by convenience store owner and entrepreneur Naweed Akram, who was a frequent visitor of Sbarro’s at the Mall. While he enjoyed the food, he liked Acosta’s work ethic more.
Akram and Acosta, along with Zee Baber, became business partners and “The Best Gas Station Pizza” campaign was born. The Viera community experienced a growth spurt – and so did Viera Pizza.
Once Viera Pizza was turning a profit, Acosta was approached again by Naweed, this time to help sponsor a 5K Run for Sally’s House for women. Acosta thought the run was a great idea but wasn’t crazy about running in the event.
“I’m not an athlete, never was,” said Acosta. “So I told Naweed I had no desire to run whatsoever and he told me that if you’re going to sponsor a race, you have to run in it. So Acosta trained, prepared and drafted some employees to run with him.
Acosta’s efforts for youth and the needy has not gone unnoticed. He was inducted into the inaugural Viera Athletic Sports Hall of Fame and in 2018 was awarded the prestigious Golden Shoe by the Space Coast Runners Club.
He is also a five-time defending champion of Running Zone’s Corporate 5K’s “Fastest CEO” title. Not bad for a guy that never wanted to run.
“Too Blessed to be stressed” is the motto by which Acosta operates Viera Pizza and his life.
While that may true, he is also too busy being a family man, a successful business owner and philanthropist to be stressed. You can now add Space Coast Sports Hall of Famer to that list.
THE 2020 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 8.
FOR INFORMATION ABOUT the 2020 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME, call 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com
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