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updated: 4/27/2013 5:30 PM

DuPage 'Human Race' grows in diversity

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  • Runners start the second annual Human Race, a 5K run and 2-mile walk hosted by Giving DuPage on Saturday morning in Downers Grove. The race allows supporters of small, local nonprofits to fundraise for the charity of their choice.

       Runners start the second annual Human Race, a 5K run and 2-mile walk hosted by Giving DuPage on Saturday morning in Downers Grove. The race allows supporters of small, local nonprofits to fundraise for the charity of their choice.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Cynthia Johnson of Lisle is the first walker to cross the finish line Saturday during the second annual Human Race in Downers Grove hosted by Giving DuPage. Johnson participated as co-chairwoman of DuPage County ACT-SO, which stands for the Afro-Academic Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics.

       Cynthia Johnson of Lisle is the first walker to cross the finish line Saturday during the second annual Human Race in Downers Grove hosted by Giving DuPage. Johnson participated as co-chairwoman of DuPage County ACT-SO, which stands for the Afro-Academic Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Walkers begin their 2-mile course Saturday morning in Downers Grove as part of the second annual Human Race hosted by Giving DuPage.

       Walkers begin their 2-mile course Saturday morning in Downers Grove as part of the second annual Human Race hosted by Giving DuPage.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Patrick Austin of Plattville, Ill. wins the second annual Giving DuPage Human Race, a 5K run and 2-mile held Saturday morning in Downers Grove.

       Patrick Austin of Plattville, Ill. wins the second annual Giving DuPage Human Race, a 5K run and 2-mile held Saturday morning in Downers Grove.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Patrick Austin of Plattville, Illinois congratulates a fellow New Balance team runner Saturday after finishing 5K run in the second annual Human Race hosted by Giving DuPage.

       Patrick Austin of Plattville, Illinois congratulates a fellow New Balance team runner Saturday after finishing 5K run in the second annual Human Race hosted by Giving DuPage.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Kristen Heckert of Lisle stops her timing watch as she becomes the first woman to cross the finish line in the Giving DuPage Human Race 5K on Saturday morning in Downers Grove.

       Kristen Heckert of Lisle stops her timing watch as she becomes the first woman to cross the finish line in the Giving DuPage Human Race 5K on Saturday morning in Downers Grove.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Patrick Austin of Plattville, Ill., and Kristen Heckert of Lisle celebrate their wins in the men's and women's 5K Saturday morning at the second annual Human Race hosted by Giving DuPage.

       Patrick Austin of Plattville, Ill., and Kristen Heckert of Lisle celebrate their wins in the men's and women's 5K Saturday morning at the second annual Human Race hosted by Giving DuPage.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Michael Lucchesi of Lisle congratulates his girlfriend, Kristen Heckert of Lisle, after the Giving DuPage Human Race 5K on Saturday in Downers Grove. Lucchesi finished second, while Heckert finished first among women runners.

       Michael Lucchesi of Lisle congratulates his girlfriend, Kristen Heckert of Lisle, after the Giving DuPage Human Race 5K on Saturday in Downers Grove. Lucchesi finished second, while Heckert finished first among women runners.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
 

More than a thousand people in Downers Grove on Saturday morning rallied for free yoga, promoted African culture and academics, worked to provide daytime activities for autistic high school graduates and supported two choirs and the historical preservation of Glen Ellyn.

But to the untrained eye, all it appeared they were doing was running.

The second annual Human Race hosted by Giving DuPage drew about 1,100 participants to the Esplanade at Locust Point in Downers Grove to raise funds for 48 local nonprofits that lack the capacity to host their own charity runs.

The 5K run and 2-mile walk stepped off on a sunny morning, sending a sea of color onto the office complex's streets as teams representing different charities ran, jogged or walked at their own pace.

"We thought about doing our own 5K last year, but being a small organization, it was hard to organize," said Priya Parrish, who rounded up 60 participants from Yog Sadham Ashram, which offers yoga for donations in West Chicago, to join in the Human Race. "When I heard about this, I thought it was perfect."

The new course, moved from last year's location at Danada Forest Preserve near Wheaton, allowed more space for participants so the race could grow, said Kathy Blair, executive director of Giving DuPage. Along with gaining more than 100 participants, Blair said the race grew in diversity.

"It's starting to look more like DuPage County," she said about the field of 48 participating nonprofits, up from 27 last year. "We're getting a really good cross-section of participants."

A core group including Northern Illinois Food Bank, Loaves & Fishes Community Pantry and Literacy DuPage got the race rolling last year and came back this year, joined by groups such as Community Access Naperville, which plans small group programs for six autistic boys ages 18-22, and DuPage County ACT-SO, which stands for the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics.

"This year, we saw a lot more of the small ones realizing it was out there and joining in," Blair said.

A team of six New Balance athletes led finishers in the men's and women's 5K, while Cynthia Johnson of Lisle, co-chairwoman of DuPage County ACT-SO, finished first among those walking the 2-mile course. She and her husband, Ronnie, were fundraising Saturday to send a group of students to a national competition in Orlando.

Jennifer Fairlamb, one of the founding members of Community Access Naperville, said she brought about 40 walkers and runners to gain exposure and donations for her group's mission.

"We're small; we're starting," Fairlamb said, "but it was great that Giving DuPage gave us the opportunity to be out here."

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