The first Active Care Color Blast 5k Saturday in downtown Arlington Heights pelted about 1,300 runners and walkers with blue, green and other colored cornstarch that drifted into clouds among dozens of spectators lining the streets.
The fundraiser garnered about $30,000 from entry fees and sponsors, helping Clearbrook, which provides services, programs and support for children and adults with autism, Down syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Participants ranged in ages from babies in strollers to 74. More notable participants included Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes with the runners, and Clearbrook President Carl M. La Mell with the walkers. Both men crossed the finish line heavily colored, possibly the only time when their workers volunteered to throw the powder at participants, including their bosses.
Jared Borowsky, of Buffalo Grove, crossed the finish line first and was covered in a rainbow of cornstarch from head to toe.
"I kind of liked it," said Borowsky, a runner who will be a sophomore this fall at Stevenson High School.
Tim Howley of Arlington Heights, was right behind and also was covered with color.
"I did it because this sounded like a lot of fun," Howley said.
While they enjoyed the race and the colorful ending, Borowsky said too much of the powder was in his face and Howley said it was in his ear.
Participants were given protective sun glasses and facial masks. Some chose to wear them. No injuries were reported, said Clearbrook event planning coordinator Sarah Shaw.
Shaw also said the race was not timed and the winners weren't officially recorded, because "we just wanted them to have fun and not worry about the time."
Four color stations with roughly 1,200 pounds of colored food-grade cornstarch were set up along the route. Volunteers, many from the Clearbrook staff, threw handfuls of the cornstarch at participants as they passed.
"It puts a new spin on 5K races," Shaw said.
John Cress and Amanda Karm, co-owners and chiropractic doctors at Active Care Chiropractic and Rehabilitation in Arlington Heights, proposed the colorful run as a creative way to raise funds for Clearbrook. Cress, who has a cousin with Down syndrome, said the idea came about a year ago and village officials approved the event last March. The color blast theme came from Clearbrook's colorful logo for an Autism Day program, Cress said.
"Being a volunteer and giving back to the community has always been a part of our family," Cress said.