Running and pizza are not words usually seen in close proximity, but at Viera Pizza, running is very much part of the picture.

The busy pizzeria Mike Acosta started 15 years ago this month has a strong connection with the local running scene, particularly as it relates to charitable events.

Through Viera Pizza’s Power of Pizza Charities, Viera Pizza orchestrates powerhouse races such as the Eye of the Dragon 10K, the Space Coast Classic 15K and the Run Run Santa, which provides a full-fledged Santa suit for every runner in this very popular holiday event.

All the running around started in 2012, when Acosta met runner and avid pizza fan Brittany Streufert.

"We both liked pizza, but I wasn’t a runner," Acosta said.

The two began discussing orchestrating a race that would benefit their community. Acosta already was experienced at supporting local nonprofits.

From that pizza-laden meeting came the idea for the Eat My Crust 5K. It has raised more than $100,000 for the Viera High School Athletic Department, the Special Olympics and the Early Steps program. It also made Acosta into a runner.

The next step was to launch Power of Pizza Charities, or POP, a nonprofit with a full annual schedule of fundraisers. Pizza is Acosta’s love, but he also loves giving back.

Viera Pizza is not your average pizzeria, beginning with the location.

With the support of Mobil gas station owner Naweed Akram and Z. Baber, Acosta was able to expand from the original tiny take-out location in the former storage room of a gas station at the corner of Viera Boulevard and Murrell Road to its current site at 5450 Stadium Parkway.

It still is attached to a Mobil, but in name only. Half of the physical facility is the pizzeria, which seats 40 and has plenty of room for the pizzeria’s fabled giant 24-inch pizzas.

Pizzeria patrons should be ecstatic this month since Acosta plans to feature several specials.

"We have some unbelievable deals," he said.

Viera Pizza isn’t all about pizza, either. Wings are popular, given that guests can choose from 15 different sauce flavors and three dry rubs.

Gyros are popular, too, including the loaded french fry gyro. The menu also features entrees such as chicken cordon bleu pasta.

A new line of dessert pizzas with flaky pastry crust and flavors such as s’mores adds another tasty dimension to the dining experience.

Acosta lives and breathes Viera. His most current labor of love is helping to fund the Back the Track Project, which will refurbish the Viera High School track.

"As Viera grows, we want to grow along," Acosta said.

"We’re super blessed to be here."

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