Race to honor the victims of Highland Park shooting

On June 4, runners will race to honor the victims of the Highland Park shooting and benefit affected community members.

The Highland Park Community Foundation is proud to be the charitable partner of the Highland Park Strong Half Marathon, 5K and 1 Mile Run (or walk), formerly known as the North Shore Classic. The half marathon begins in downtown Highland Park and makes its way north past historic sites in Fort Sheridan before heading back to downtown Highland Park.

The 5K and 1 Mile Run/Walk make a quick loop around the neighborhood. There will be a post-race celebration for participants and the entire community.

Ventures Endurance is known for producing unique races and athletic events that bring communities together in an active way. After nearly five decades of producing the North Shore Classic, Stuart Wall, senior director of Event Development & Operations at Ventures Endurance, says this year is "an inflection point" for the event in light of the Highland Park shooting.

Reflecting on what makes this year's race different from those in the past, he said, "We are enhancing the community atmosphere and participant experience by engaging more local partners, extending the post-race celebration, and creating meaningful connections with neighbors. We look forward to welcoming new runners and nonrunners to the event and 1-mile walk. We will also remember those impacted by the shooting."

Participants can raise money for the HPCF's July 4 Recovery Fund, which will be distributed to local organizations dedicated to providing mental health, legal, and other services for affected community members.

From its Hot Chocolate 15K/5K races to obstacle courses and cycling races, each of Ventures Endurance's events support nonprofits through their charity program, allowing participants to fundraise and donate as well as raise awareness for the chosen cause.

The inspiration to choose the HPCF as this year's charitable partner came from Ali Burnham, a Highland Park resident and avid runner. Just weeks after the shooting, Ali rallied her fellow runners and approached Ventures Endurance about modifying the race to honor the victims and help the community.

"We were impressed by the immediate action to establish and distribute the July Fourth Response Fund to assist victims and families following the shooting. More than that, though, the Community Foundation has long been a presence in Highland Park, reinvesting in the community in which we host our events," Burnhams said.

"From our initial conversations, we felt we could be great partners, and together we could raise more funds that would create a greater impact."

HPCF board member Craig Leva added, "The HPCF is very much honored to be the chosen beneficiary for this race. The funds raised from this race will support a variety of local organizations that continue to help the community's grieving and healing process."

This year's Half Marathon, 5K and 1 Mile Walk/Run will be particularly meaningful for the Highland Park and Highwood community. This importance is reflected in the new logo for the race, which was redesigned to honor the seven victims through the leaves of the tree and in the name change for the event to the Highland Park Strong Race.

"Having this race renamed as the Highland Park Strong race is a testament to our community's resiliency. There were so many members in our community who took immediate action with candlelight vigils, memorials with pictures, flowers, and words of hope," Craig said.

"The Highland Park Community Foundation, with help from an incredible number of individuals and businesses, quickly raised and distributed $5.8 million to help the victims' families and those physically injured. Somehow Highland Park Strong went from a hope to a reality."

The Highland Park Strong Half Marathon, 5K, and 1 Mile Race will take place Sunday, June 4. The Half Marathon begins at 7:30 a.m. at St. Johns and Central Avenue, while the 5K and 1 Mile Race start at 7 a.m.

All end at the site of the post-race party, St. Johns and Elm Place, where there will be food, refreshments, and more.

For race details and to register, visit Registration will remain open until noon the day prior to race day.

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