Instead of always running for myself, the t-shirts, and the medals, this year I will be running for two very important causes.
The first is the Move for the Kids 5k for Children’s Memorial Hospital on May 12th. Children’s will be moving from its Lincoln Park location to a brand-new state-of-the-art facility downtown, and will become the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. This very special 3.1 run will begin at the old hospital and finish at the new one, to symbolize the move the kids and the staff will be making this June. Additionally, the funds raised from this race will support the final phase of the new facility’s construction, and help ensure that the hospital has everything it needs to give kids the best care possible.
Children’s Memorial has touched the lives of several people close to me, including a friend whose son was born at 24 weeks and spent his first two months of life at this hospital. Without the help of Children’s he might not still be alive. Additionally, my boyfriend had surgery at Children’s as a kid, and had to spend several extra days there when a complication from the surgery caused his lung to collapse. This race is going to be held on his birthday, so I think it’s appropriate that we will be running this race together.
Then, in September of this year, I will be running the Chicago Half Marathon again as a member of Team Bookin’ It for Open Books.
This race is especially important to me for several reasons. First and foremost, it was for Team Bookin’ It last year that I committed to fundraising and training for my very first half marathon ever. Before registering for the team last year, I had never run more than 6 miles. Since then, in less than a year, I now have 2 half marathons, a 10-miler, and a marathon under my belt. It was this race that turned me into someone who can actually call herself a runner – and has essentially changed my life.
But even more important than the running aspect of this race, Open Books is an organization that has also changed my life – and is a cause I strongly believe in.
The concept of this amazing nonprofit is that it runs a phenomenal used bookstore in Chicago, and all of the proceeds go toward funding literacy programs for Chicagoland students. As a former teacher, reading specialist, and someone who is generally passionate about literacy, it is no surprise that this is an organization I fully support.
However, in recent months, Open Books has become even more important to me. I began my journey with Open Books as a volunteer for their VWrite program, where I became a mentor for a local high school junior at Gage Park High School. Soon after that, I became involved with their Associate Board, where I eventually signed on to co-chair the 2011 Team Bookin’ It team. And then, last December, around the same time I was laid off from my job of 7 years, I was actually offered a job with Open Books as their new program manager.
I am proud to now be a bigger part of this incredible organization, and raising money to support their literacy programs is something I am extremely passionate about. Every day I see first-hand the impact Open Books is making on local students. From struggling readers in our Buddies programs, to middle- and high-schoolers building confidence in their reading and writing abilities with ReadThenWrite, to kids of all ages developing their creative writing skills at our Adventures in Creative Writing Field Trips, I know Open Books is helping to enrich lives through reading, writing, and the incredible power of used books.
I know it’s probably a crazy idea to raise money to support two different organizations in one year. There are so many causes and races to support, and people can’t say yes to all of them. But, as you can tell, it’s hard for me to choose between these two incredible organizations, and they both mean a lot to me. So, I decided to set a lofty goal of raising $200 for Children’s Memorial, and $1,000 for Open Books, and let my donors decide.
If you’d like to help, you can do so in the following ways: