DOWNTOWN — May will be a month to remember for Kevin Zarlengo.
The 28-year-old Lincoln Park resident plans to spend no money for all of May's 31 days, with the exception of paying off student loans and throwing some cash to his brother, John, for rent. The dollars he saves will be donated after the 39-mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer on May 31 and June 1.
Zarlengo, a sales rep for the Tribune, also won't take public transportation during May, instead either walking or riding using the yearlong Divvy pass he bought last summer.
Zarlengo will work to eat, doing chores at homes of friends, co-workers, family and strangers in exchange for meals.
"I'll scrub toilets, baby-sit, wash your floor, wash your walls, clean your garbage. ... There's nothing I won't do," said Zarlengo, whose goal is to raise $1,800.
Justin Breen introduces us to the man who will donate money he saves in May to help find a breast cancer cure:
He also will be blogging tales about his saga.
"I'm most excited about being in random social interactions, meeting random people, going to their homes and seeing what I'm going to have to do. And seeing what they're going to cook me," he said. "This will be an experience, probably one of the most memorable experiences of my entire life."
Canaryville resident Kaitlyn Conley, whom Zarlengo has known since their days at Marian Catholic High School, will have him walking her two German shepherds for food. She said Zarlengo's initiative to raise money and awareness for breast cancer is "brave and inspiring."
"I imagine that over the course of a month dedicating his efforts to helping others will demonstrate the sense of community surrounding him and help raise awareness for a good cause," she said.
Zarlengo also said a co-worker has asked him to paint her apartment, and a friend requested he baby-sit his kids. Another buddy wants him to clean and dust a staircase that winds up three floors.
Zarlengo's biggest concern is starvation — he's about 6 feet tall and only 165 pounds — although he's determined to finish out the month. Zarlengo said he's going to fish with a cousin in Lake Michigan. He's looking into urban foraging as well.
A drummer in a couple of bands, Zarlengo will promote his mission during shows, including on May 13 at Township, in search of help. He said "Bagel Friday" at the Tribune, where employees bring in boxes of bagels, is "going to help immensely."
A last resort will be creating a sign reading "Can You Feed Me?" and holding it on Michigan Avenue.
"I'm hoping I don't have to do that," he said.
Zarlengo has no family members or close friends who have had breast cancer, but he became committed to the cause in March after his cousin, Kristin Buishas, requested he participate in the Avon walk.
"People asked me why I'm doing this, and I say, why not?" Zarlengo said. "I have a mother, I have two sisters, I have two grandmas and a lot of friends who are female."
Zarlengo, who is moving to Pilsen in June, said May represents a chance for him to do "something special."
"I don't think it's as crazy as other people do," he said. "I'm single, so let's do something fun, something with a good cause and effect, and meet some interesting people along the way. I think it will be a positive experience."
For more information on Zarlengo, click here.