ENGLEWOOD — The first organized run ever to go through Englewood seeks to raise awareness of the importance of good health and fitness in poor communities and fight the violence that plagues the area, its organizers said.
The Ditch the Weight & Guns 5K Walk & Run, which is scheduled for Nov. 2, and will take runners through South Side streets that are a world away, both literally and figuratively, from the neighborhoods that saw tens of thousands runners during the Chicago Marathon over the weekend.
The idea for what organizers hope will become an annual event "to promote nutrition, fitness and nonviolence" came from Andrea Natay, owner of Forever Fitness Chicago.
"Englewood [is] a place more known for violence than fitness," said Natay, a 34-year-old personal trainer and nutritionist from Bronzeville.
Wendell Hutson says organizers understand that the neighborhood is violent, but hope to show off the good:
A portion of the proceeds from the race will be donated to the nonprofit Forever Moving Forward, which seeks to empower girls ages 7-18, and also to the athletic department at William Harper High School in Englewood, from which Natay graduated in 1998.
"I know the school could use some help purchasing sporting equipment and uniforms for the students," said Natay.
Natay said her city permit allows up to 900 people to take part in the event. She expects most to be Englewood residents, fitness trainers and even those affected by crime in the city.
That includes Ariana Taylor, a 23-year-old West Pullman resident who plans to run in memory of five friends and one relative murdered in the last four years. Among the victims were Kyle Hogan, a 24-year-old father killed in Morgan Park last year, and Samuel Coleman, a 20-year-old killed in West Pullman in 2010.
The Morgan Park High School alumnus, who is pursuing an MBA at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said she takes the city's gun violence epidemic personally.
"There is still a perception that only bad things come out of these neighborhoods," said Taylor. "Already I hear people saying they will donate but will not do the run because of where it will be. But hopefully after the run, people will have a different opinion about Englewood and neighborhoods like it."
The race also will highlight the need for better fitness and nutrition in poor communities.
"There exists an unquestionable correlation between poor food choices and poor health outcomes," the run's website states. "Lack of fresh fruits and vegetables, inadequate medical resources and education are a few causations of social disorganization. It is the objective of Forever Fitness Chicago LLC to host 'Ditch the Weight & Guns' Englewood 5K Walk & Run in order to offer a peaceful wellness event, while providing nutrition and fitness awareness within the Greater Englewood community."
Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th), whose ward includes a portion of the route, said she plans to attend the event and might even run, too.
"I think this run is a wonderful idea, and I was glad to assist them [organizers] get the ball rolling," Foulkes said.
Chicago police officials said officers will be stationed along the race route, which begins at the corner of Odgen Park at Marquette Road and Racine Avenue, continues east to Morgan Street, and turns south to 71st Street. The route then heads west on 71st Street to Damen Avenue, where it turns back north to Marquette Road, then turns west, ending up at Loomis Street, at the western border of of Ogden Park.
Registration for will start at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 2 followed by the run at 10 a.m. at Ogden Park. A $20 registration fee can be paid online until Oct. 31, or in person at the event.
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