Not a day goes by that Naperville's Nicarico family isn't forced to remember the tragedy that stole their 10-year-old daughter Jeanine from them 31 years ago.
But that first week in June always brings a special energy into their lives and a smile to their faces.
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If you goWhat: Evening GLOW 5K Run for Reading
Why: To support reading programs in Naperville
When: 8:15 p.m. Saturday, June 7
Where: Fifth Avenue Station, 200 E. Fifth Ave., Naperville
The 13th annual Jeanine Nicarico Run for Reading -- now dubbed the Evening GLOW 5K Run for Reading -- is set for 8:15 p.m. Saturday, June 7, at Fifth Avenue Station, 200 E. Fifth Ave. For the second consecutive year, the fundraiser will take place at night, and participants are being asked to help illuminate the 5K course by wearing glow sticks.
"Knowing Jeanine, and unfortunately many people involved in this great event didn't, she was a very bubbly and positive little girl and that's how we remember her," said her mother, Pat Nicarico. "The tragic way she died was horrific, but we don't dwell on that. We choose to focus on the happy, good person she was, and that's what the event is about.
"It's a really joyous occasion for everyone in our family and a chance to keep doing something good for the community that has done so much for us."
The 10-year-old Jeanine was kidnapped and murdered on Feb, 25, 1983, by convicted killer Brian Dugan as she stayed home sick from school.
Sponsored by the Jeanine Nicarico Memorial Fund for Literacy, the event supports reading programs in Naperville Unit District 203 and Indian Prairie Unit District 204. A check for $1,000 will also be donated to the DuPage County Children's Advocacy Center, which recently was dedicated in Jeanine's memory.
Already this year, the organization has donated a total of $48,000 in grants to both districts and All Saints Academy, Little Friends, Inc.'s Krejci Academy, and Edward Hospital's Born to Read program.
Since the fund was created in 1996, Nicarico said, more than $300,000 has been distributed to help provide "enriched literacy opportunities" for Naperville children.
Jeanine's sister, Kathy Brown, said the run, especially since last year's change to a more colorful event, is something Jeanine "would love as she looks down and sees all the bright colors."
"Early on, Jeanine struggled as a reader until two great teachers brought her under their wings and made her a fantastic and avid reader by the time she reached fifth grade," Brown said.
"So it is really meaningful to our entire family to see so much positive energy coming from this day."
In addition to the glow theme, there will be an after-party with live music by Tres Moustache, food and drinks from several local restaurants, and a beer tent.
Participants can walk or run the course, which follows Plank Road east to Tuthill Road, near Naper Boulevard, where they will turn around and retrace their steps to Fifth Avenue. Awards will be given to men and women in nine age groups, and also to a team and individual runner who shows the "most glow."
Brown said more than 1,100 participants have registered, leaving plenty of time for organizers to beat last year's record of 1,300 runners and walkers.
"We're hoping to hit between 1,500 and 2,000 participants this year," Brown said. "But in the future we're hoping to eventually max out at 2,500 and be able to close down registration a week before the event. That's our dream."