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posted: 6/20/2017 11:54 AM

Naperville teammates planning 'RAGE' 5K against Celiac disease

Naperville teammates planning 'RAGE' 5K against Celiac disease

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  • Naperville North High School cross-country teammates Haley Glowacki, Alex Morris and Megan Driscoll, who all have Celiac disease, are organizing a 5K race June 25 to raise money for the Celiac Disease Foundation. The race is set to begin at 8 a.m. at Danada Forest Preserve near Wheaton.

      Naperville North High School cross-country teammates Haley Glowacki, Alex Morris and Megan Driscoll, who all have Celiac disease, are organizing a 5K race June 25 to raise money for the Celiac Disease Foundation. The race is set to begin at 8 a.m. at Danada Forest Preserve near Wheaton.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Alex Morris of Naperville finishes in second place and first among women in 2014 after a 5K race she planned herself to raise money for the Celiac Foundation. Now Alex and two of her cross-country teammates at Naperville North High School who also have Celiac disease are planning a second running of the race on Sunday, June 25, at Danada Forest Preserve near Wheaton.

    Alex Morris of Naperville finishes in second place and first among women in 2014 after a 5K race she planned herself to raise money for the Celiac Foundation. Now Alex and two of her cross-country teammates at Naperville North High School who also have Celiac disease are planning a second running of the race on Sunday, June 25, at Danada Forest Preserve near Wheaton.
    Courtesy of Morris family

  • Alex Morris of Naperville, seen at age 12, is planning her second 5K RAGE, or Race for Answers to Gluten Enteropathy, to raise money for the Celiac Disease Foundation.

      Alex Morris of Naperville, seen at age 12, is planning her second 5K RAGE, or Race for Answers to Gluten Enteropathy, to raise money for the Celiac Disease Foundation.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer MAY 2014

 
 

Running a 5K makes it just an average day for Naperville North High School cross-country and track runners Alex Morris, Haley Glowacki and Megan Driscoll.

The distance is a typical part of their summer training for 3-mile races they run competitively in the fall.

Running with Celiac disease is routine for the trio, too.

The teammates all have been diagnosed with the condition, in which the body reacts abnormally to consumption of gluten, causing inflammation in the intestines and bowels and, in some cases, preventing absorption of nutrients that allow for normal growth.

The runners say the condition doesn't affect them much -- as long as they steer clear of gluten, which Megan says "gives me awful stomach pains for several hours."

But that's no easy task, as the protein found in wheat makes its way into all kinds of common foods, especially those from restaurants. Avoiding it can create restrictions and require understanding from family, friends and fellow diners. Or in these teens' case, fellow runners.

Alex, Haley and Megan are the planners and faces behind the second 5K RAGE Against Celiac Disease, a race beginning at 8 a.m. Sunday, June 25, at Danada Forest Preserve near Wheaton. RAGE stands for Race for Answers to Gluten Enteropathy.

The race takes place on a day designated as Celiac Awareness Day by the Naperville City Council, which honored the runners earlier this month for their work to plan the race and raise awareness for the condition.

It's not the second annual RAGE, since the race has skipped a few years after Alex, at age 12, launched it in 2014. What began as a bat mitzvah service project and a fundraiser for the Celiac Disease Foundation is now coming back because she simply wants to do more.

"We just wanted to raise more money for the Celiac Disease Foundation," Alex said. "It'll be for fun."

Alex's mom, Jody Morris, says money raised from the race will help with awareness campaigns run by the Celiac Disease Foundation, as well as research on treatments or cures for the condition.

Her future teammate Haley walked the first race before the two even met. After seeing the first event raise nearly $10,000 with 150 participants, Haley, too, wanted to further the cause.

"I didn't understand how many people were willing to help," Haley said.

The teammates have found comfort in each other's presence, knowing they won't be the only one eating the gluten-free snacks or requesting a different meal during a pre-race pasta party.

"With our gluten-free pretzels, a lot of our friends prefer that over regular pretzels," Haley said. "It's funny to see how they adapt with what we have to eat."

The runners hope to bring that level of understanding to others as they plan the second race, aiming to attract a larger crowd to the trails of Danada.

It's a no-frills event, with the 5K on an out-and-back course, a 1-mile walk and a "Silly Yak" 50-yard dash for kids. Roughly 20 sponsors are providing support and gluten-free treats for after runners complete their chosen distance.

Registration costs $15 for kids 7 and younger to run the 50-yard dash, $25 for the 1-mile walk and $35 for the 5K at alex5krage.org.

"It should be fun because the forest preserve is really pretty," Alex said. "It's a nice run."

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