The Bonfield Express 5K Run/Walk, a Thanksgiving morning tradition in Downers Grove, will award 10 additional scholarships to celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. The race began in 2004 to honor the memory of Downers Grove South father, teacher, dean and coach Jim Bonfield and works to further his message of character, community and commitment.
Since 2004, the Bonfield Express Foundation has distributed more than $200,000 in scholarships to more than 100 west suburban seniors attending high school at Downers Grove North, Downers Grove South, Hinsdale Central, Hinsdale South, Lisle, and Westmont high schools. In 2013 alone, 14 scholarships were awarded. In 2014, the number of scholarships awarded will rise to 24.
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The Bonfield Scholarship "is a great way for the community to come together and assist students pursuing a higher education that couldn't necessarily afford it themselves," said
Grant Crist, a 2011 Downers Grove North graduate and Bonfield scholarship recipient.
Crist, who will be the 2014 honorary Bonfield Express race starter, was critically injured in a bicycle accident in Australia in July 2013. He wanted to "fulfill the Bonfield message of community" by coaching for his former cross-country team at Downers Grove North when he returned home. "I wanted to foster that community aspect and encourage the runners to pursue their dreams. They came together for me, and I was just paying it back," Crist explained.
Jessica Storch, owner and coach at the Knockout Women's Boxing Club in Westmont, said "there's something about the Bonfield Express that's creates a strong sense of community. To see everybody on Thanksgiving morning, happy to be out there in the rain, cold, or sunshine belonging to the community, empowering young people by supporting their dreams, giving them scholarships and encouraging everyone to be the best that they can be. That resonates with me."
Like the race, Storch's Knockout team has grown with each passing year from an initial 45 runners in 2011, 74 runners in 2012 and now 128 runners in this year's Bonfield Express.
The Bonfield Express 5K race attracts a broad assortment of runners and walkers from around the area and has grown in size and momentum with each passing year. With nearly 6,000 registrants in 2012, it is now one of the largest events in the community.
Kathy Bosco, of Downers Grove, is not surprised by the huge outpouring of emotion for a man who gave so much to his community. She knew Jim Bonfield since their high school years and described him as "a tribute to all that's right in the world. Until the day he died, he was an inspiration and kept a positive outlook, always thinking of others first," she explained.
Registration for the 2013 Bonfield Express 5K Run/Walk is now open, and thousands have already registered.
Pre-race registration materials can be picked up from 11 am to 3 pm on Saturday, Nov. 23, and Sunday, Nov. 24, at the Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center, located on the hospital campus at 3551 Highland Avenue in Downers Grove.
The first 5,500 registered runners to pick up their packets will receive a tech shirt. The Bonfield Express also features state-of-the-art chip timing, a precise method of electronically gathering and processing race results.
Bonfield participants are encouraged to register on-line no later than 10 pm on Nov. 22 to enjoy discounts. Those who do will pay $25 per person and $85 for a family of four. Registration fees on site at the Health and Wellness Center on Nov. 23 and 24 will be $30 per person and $100 for a family of four. Race day registration will be held at the Tivoli Theatre, 5021 Highland Avenue in Downers Grove, from 7 to 8 am, and will be $35 per person only.
This year's race will return to its customary route through the scenic neighborhoods and downtown Downers Grove starting at 8:30 am at Main and Grove Streets in downtown Downers Grove. Last year, the race was rerouted due to construction on village streets.
The top three male and female race finishers will be acknowledged and will receive gift certificates in the amount of $100, $75 or $50 good for use at businesses in downtown Downers Grove.
A post-race party will be held in the Downers Grove Parking Garage and will feature complimentary food and drink provided by Whole Foods of Willowbrook, Caribou Coffee and the popular "Massage in the Garage" available to all race participants by the Sohmar School of Holistic Massage and Reflexology.
For more information and to register for the Bonfield Express 5K, go to www.bonfieldexpress.com.