Runners will be asked to donate to the program when signing up for the race that takes over the tree-lined streets of Beverly at 8 a.m. Memorial Day, May 30.
The annual 10K, 5K and 1-mile run for children is the biggest fundraiser for the neighborhood association, said Holland, adding that roughly 2,300 people participated last year.
She hopes to improve those numbers by collaborating with Special Olympics Chicago and other local groups including Beverly's running store Running Excels and the neighboring workout facility Treadfit. The two businesses are working to develop kid's running clubs throughout the area that will then participate in the race.
The Ridge Run has also worked to improve its post-race activities this year. Holland hopes this will draw more runners as well as keep participants near the finish line at Ridge Park for the subsequent Beverly Hills/Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony.
For their part, some Special Olympics athletes from Mount Greenwood Park will run the race. Others have volunteered to work at a water station along the route, said Lisa Mulcrone, the special recreation coordinator for the park at 3721 W. 111th St.
About 100 athletes between the ages of 6-65 participate in the Special Olympics program at Mount Greenwood Park, and more than half of these individuals live within the 19th Ward, Mulcrone said.
"It's going to be awesome," Mulcrone said of the Ridge Run. "We have some good runners here."
The Special Olympics chapter in Mount Greenwood meets mostly on weekdays from 3:30-7:30 p.m. Athletes train in a variety of sports, often depending on the season as well as their age and ability level, Mulcrone said.
This winter, some members of the group are practicing snowshoeing for a competition next month. Others are involved in floor hockey, power lifting, arts and crafts and other activities, she said.
Holland is hoping the partnership with Special Olympics and others boosts Ridge Run participation. If so, she hopes to not just ask for donations but to also share a portion of the race proceeds with such deserving neighborhood groups in the future.
For more information about the Ridge Run, visit the Beverly Area Planning Association's website or call 773-233-3100. An early registration discount is available to runners who register before Feb. 1.
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