Despite having little funding, volunteers for Healthy Lombard have been able to creatively work toward reducing child obesity and getting residents active for the past five years.
Still, there are costs to regularly sponsoring healthy activities and hosting events like an annual Fitness February Fair at Yorktown Center.
Jay Wojcik, the organization's founder, often foots the bill. But now she is in the running for a $30,000 grant from Health Mart, a pharmacy franchise that includes Lombard Pharmacy.
"If we got the $30,000 I'd probably have a heart attack," Wojcik said Wednesday. "I don't want to dream too much about what we would do with the money, but I know there's a lot of cool things out there that we could sponsor."
About four months ago, Healthy Lombard partnered with Lombard Pharmacy to provide children with free vitamins. Wojcik said the head pharmacist was just as surprised as she was to find out she was recently named one of 15 finalists nationwide in Health Mart's "Champion of Care" challenge.
Earlier this month, Wojcik's husband nominated her for the contest, which will award $50,000 in prize money to people who are working to make their communities healthier. That includes $1,000 to a local nonprofit chosen by each of the 15 finalists.
"This is like a godsend," Wojcik said, adding that about $350 of the $1,000 will be used to pay off the remaining expenses from last month's fitness fair.
Some of the remaining money will go toward the organization's annual "Flat Apple" contest, which offers raffle prizes for residents who take photos of themselves doing something healthy. Wojcik said she also hopes to possibly provide a few children with scholarships to YMCA summer camps.
"I'm a good connector with people, but I'm not a good fundraiser," Wojcik said. "All that takes a little bit of money but we don't really have a whole lot in the budget."
Voters will now decide which of the 15 finalists will be the grand prize winner of the $30,000 grant. The first runner-up will receive a $3,000 grant and the second runner-up will get a $2,000 grant.
On Sunday, Health Mart will narrow the group of finalists to 10. Voting for the remaining finalists will continue through March 30.
To vote or view videos of all 15 finalists, visit healthmartcommunity.com.