Naperville literacy run enters 14th year
School will be out for some in Naperville by the time crowds of teachers, students, siblings and parents take to the streets for an evening 5K decked out in glow-in-the dark gear.
But racers will be running for a reason that has everything to do with school -- literacy.
The 14th annual GLOW Run for Reading steps off at 8:15 p.m. Saturday, June 6, at Fifth Avenue and Ellsworth Street, raising money for the Jeanine Nicarico Memorial Literacy Fund. Since 1996, the fund has given nearly $350,000 to reading programs at public and private schools in the Naperville area, including those in Naperville Unit District 203 and Indian Prairie Unit District 204.
Race Director Tracey Nelson said her son, Charlie, benefitted from a literacy program the fund supported two years ago. When he was in first grade at Elmwood Elementary School in Naperville, he was struggling with reading. But a grant his school received gave him a few new books of his own to take home and practice.
Now, "he's doing great with reading," his mother said.
This year, Scott and River Woods elementary schools, All Saints Catholic Academy, Born to Read and the DuPage County Children's Advocacy Center were selected as recipients of a combined $30,000 in grant money from the fund established in honor of 10-year-old Jeanine, who was kidnapped and murdered on Feb, 25, 1983. She, too, had struggled with reading.
"They're all about the literacy portion of what goes on," Ann Spehar, executive director of the Naperville Education Foundation, said about Jeanine's family members and supporters who run the fund. "It's their passion and it's a wonderful legacy of Jeanine."
But before the fund can give away more for reading programs, it will host the 14th annual 5K, which will be an evening race for the third time. By the end of May, 1,700 people had registered for the race, nearing its capacity of 2,000. Registration is available online at nicaricoliteracyfund.org and costs $40 for adults and $35 for children 12 and younger.
Nelson said schools have begun forming teams and competing to have the most participants representing their building. Along with overall awards for the male and female winners, awards are given to the "most glowed-out" individual and team and to the top high school and junior high teams.
"It's been fun, and people are getting more and more into decorating and glowing up," Nelson said. "Every year we seem to see more teams and people really putting on the glow stuff."
Glow sticks, glow hats and glow crowns will be sold during a mini festival before the race for anyone who wants to get decked out at the last minute. Beginning about 6 p.m., people can gather at the start line at 5th Avenue Station for a live performance by the local band Bert's Revenge from Dirty Ernie, glow face painting and a beer truck.
"It's a nice, fun family event," Nelson said. "It's kind of a kickoff to summer."
Each year's race also pays tribute to Jeanine. Her siblings say she'd love the bright colors of glowing adornments participants will wear as they run up and down Plank Road, Yorkshire Drive and Brighton Road in the 3.1-mile out-and-back course.
"It's a great way to remember Jeanine," Nelson said. "So many good things have come from the grants, and the community has been so supportive."
If You GoWhat: GLOW Run 5K
When: 8:15 p.m. Saturday, June 6
Where: Starts at 5th Avenue and Ellsworth Street, Naperville
Who: Benefits the Jeanine Nicarico Memorial Literacy Fund
Cost: $40 adults; $35 children 12 and younger