Jeanine Nicarico Run for Reading marks 10th year

 
Updated 5/10/2011 8:54 AM
hello
  • Jeanine Nicarico of Naperville, age 10, taken on Feb. 23, 1983, just two days before her murder.

    Jeanine Nicarico of Naperville, age 10, taken on Feb. 23, 1983, just two days before her murder.

  • Jeanine Nicarico became an avid reader before her death, prompting her family to begin the Jeanine Nicarico Memorial Fund for Literacy to help future Naperville students.

    Jeanine Nicarico became an avid reader before her death, prompting her family to begin the Jeanine Nicarico Memorial Fund for Literacy to help future Naperville students.

  • Runners take off in the 2009 Jeanine Nicarico Run for Reading. Organizers of the Naperville fundraiser hope to draw a record-breaking crowd for its 10th race on Sunday, May 15.

    Runners take off in the 2009 Jeanine Nicarico Run for Reading. Organizers of the Naperville fundraiser hope to draw a record-breaking crowd for its 10th race on Sunday, May 15. Scott sanders/Daily Herald file photo 2009

Organizers of an annual fundraiser honoring the life of a young murder victim from Naperville hope to draw a record crowd to her hometown next weekend to raise money for children's literacy.

The 10th annual Jeanine Nicarico 5K Run for Reading is planned for Sunday, May 15, at River Woods Elementary School, 2607 River Woods Drive.

"We're excited we've been doing this 10 years and that it's continued to grow," race organizer Mary Bazan said. "Last year, we had over 700 runners, which is the most we've ever had. So this year we're shooting for 1,000."

Bazan said a new competition among students from several different schools and increased interest from sponsors are helping the event maintain its momentum, even in the downed economy.

The fundraiser benefits a literacy fund in memory of Jeanine Nicarico, who was abducted from her home and murdered on Feb. 25, 1983, at age 10. To date, it has generated more than $150,000 in grants to help students in Naperville Unit District 203 and Indian Prairie Unit District 204 overcome challenges in reading, much like Jeanine did before her tragic death.

"There's so many people that didn't know Jeanine but heard enough to know she was a very energetic, bright-eyed child, and they want to bring something positive to that," Jeanine's sister, Kathy Nicarico, said. "They celebrate her life with us instead of dwelling on the tragic side that everybody hears about."

Runners and walkers step off at 7:30 a.m. at the elementary school and embark on a 3.1-mile, USA Track and Field-certified-course that winds through the River Woods, Farmington and Walnut Ridge neighborhoods.

New this year is a competition among students at several participating schools. Bazan said the largest group of students wins a visit from a published author, courtesy of Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville.

The race also will feature a fresh logo, created by 13-year-old Samantha Ahlman of Naperville, whose design was selected from those of more than 50 competing artists. In addition, participants will hear from school groups that have benefited from the fundraiser in the past, organizers said.

Participation is $25. To sign up, visit nicaricoliteracyfund.org or signmeup.com, or call Bazan at (630) 527-1100.