Runners support their own local causes in the Human Race

Look around on any given weekend and you're sure to find some big-hearted, passionate people out running or walking with a purpose.

They gather in suburban parks or our communities' downtowns, united by a shared cause: to cure cancer, to fight AIDS. They've signed up for a race to support an organization they believe in, they've asked family and friends to join them or to donate, and they're putting their feet to the pavement to demonstrate their commitment.

This weekend, you'll find runners and walkers who are just as passionate about smaller, grass-roots nonprofits striding side by side to support their favorite causes. And you're welcome to join them.

The Human Race 5K run and fitness walk is a fundraising race for the little guys.

Organized by Giving DuPage, which helps local nonprofits and volunteers find each other, the Human Race benefits 67 organizations working to make life better for those living in DuPage County.

As runners and walkers register, they choose which organization benefits from their participation.

For people who believe everything starts with having a roof over your head, the run may benefit Community Housing Advocacy and Development, DuPage Habitat for Humanity or the DuPage Homeownership Center. Those who want to ensure no one goes hungry can support food pantries in Glen Ellyn, Naperville and Elmhurst.

Participants who feel strongly about education can back the Robert Crown Centers for Health Education, Literacy DuPage and even a few school organizations. Those who are passionate about pets may sign up on behalf of humane societies in Naperville and Hinsdale.

Other participating organizations help children with autism and other special needs, support seniors and veterans, fund the arts and preserve history.

The 5K run and 2-mile walk step off at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 25, from the Esplanade at Locust Point, 1901 W. Butterfield Road, Downers Grove. If you feel passionate about any of the participating organizations, you can sign up for the Human Race on site beginning at 7:15 a.m.

Today, five Human Race participants tell us why they're passionate about their causes.

Clare Woods Academy

Stacy Jeske's daughter struggled in public school due to cognitive impairment and behavioral and emotional issues. The Naperville family found Clare Woods Academy in Wheaton, a school Jeske says changed the family's life. She'll join the Human Race on Saturday to raise money for the school. Read about Clare Woods.

Synapse House

When Chris Zinski of Wheaton suffered a brain injury and worked through medical rehab, his wife, Pattie, saw he needed more to his life than puttering around the house and looking for something to do to fill the day. She and Deborah Giesler founded Synapse House, a clubhouse with outreach and social activities run by and for people like Chris. Pattie Zinski will take part Saturday in the Human Race to raise money for the organization. Read about Synapse House.

The Greenhouse

Originally daunted by the idea of home schooling, Lisa Bastian and her husband came to believe it would be a better fit for their son, Cooper, than his traditional school setting. They discovered The Greenhouse, which provides instruction following a classical education model, could supplement their at-home education. Bastian will take part in the Human Race on Saturday to give back to the organization that helped her educate her children. Read about The Greenhouse.

Little Giraffe Foundation

When Jennifer Beckman of Woodridge was spending all her free time in the neonatal intensive care unit pulling for her son Ryan after his twin, Adam, died, she found a book from the Little Giraffe Foundation waiting in the room one day. The token left a lasting impression on her, and she will support the foundation's efforts to help premature infants and their families by taking part in the 2015 Human Race. Read about Little Giraffe.

People's Resource Center

Madeleine McAfee of Lombard will be participating in Saturday's Human Race to raise money for People's Resource Center where she's a volunteer. The organization offers emergency financial assistance, a food pantry and clothes closet as well as programs to help clients improve their skills and have a successful job hunt. Read about People's Resource Center.

Clare Woods Academy makes 'personal investment' in each special-needs student

Synapse House gives survivors of brain injury a place to go

The Greenhouse offers resources for home schooling families

Little Giraffe Foundation touches grieving mom, offers her comfort

People's Resource Center volunteer laces up for Human Race

  The USATF-certified 5K course follows paved streets in Downers Grove, where runners can challenge themselves to win or to finish among the top three males or females in their age group. Daniel White/, APRIL 2013
  In addition to a 5K course for runners, the Human Race offers a 2-mile route for walkers who want to support one of 67 nonprofit organization that benefit from the race. Daniel White/, APRIL 2013

If you go

What: The Human Race 5K run/fitness walk, organized by Giving DuPage

Why: Proceeds support 50 nonprofits serving DuPage County

When: 9 a.m. Saturday, April 25

Where: Esplanade at Locust Point, 1901 W. Butterfield Road, Downers Grove

Cost: $45 for the 5K run, $40 for the 2-mile walk, free for ages 14 and younger; race-day registration available


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