The 10th anniversary "Walk 5K for Caitlin" event will be the last as family members wrap up a decade of fundraising in memory of Caitlin Weese.
The former Larkin High School student was killed in 2003 when a drunken driver swerved into her car just a week before her graduation. Since 2004, her family has organized the walk to raise money for an annual scholarship and contribute to the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists' victims assistance fund and St. Thomas More School in Elgin, where the walk is held each year.
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This will be the only year the walk falls on Caitlin's birthday -- June 15 -- a coincidence that the family found fitting for the 10th and final event. With the Caitlin E. Weese Charitable Trust finally a self-sustaining fund, the family will discontinue the walk knowing one Larkin High School graduate per year will get a $2,000 scholarship in Caitlin's name.
Emily Mains, Caitlin's stepsister, said she hopes to make this walk the biggest and most successful fundraiser yet, drawing awareness to the dangers of drunken driving.
"If by us doing the walk we can make just one person stop and think, just stop and be responsible, then I think we're doing something," Mains said.
While this year will mark the final 5K in Caitlin's memory, Mains said the family may organize golf outings or other fundraisers in future years to raise awareness.
The walk starts at 9 a.m. June 15 and once everyone finishes, Caitlin's stepfather, Joel Mains, will speak briefly before attendees release hundreds of balloons.
Emily Mains said on her son Elliott's third birthday, just a couple months after Caitlin was killed, he told his family he wanted to send his balloons to his aunt in heaven.
"We took the balloons outside and it started a tradition for us," Mains said.
Every year walkers release the helium filled globes on race day, remembering Caitlin.
The 5K will start and end at St. Thomas More School, 1625 W. Highland Ave. Registration is $20 for adults and $10 for children with online payment options available. Organizers also are accepting donations for items to be raffled and auctioned off after the race.