Hustle Up the Hill to benefit the homeless

  • Mount Hoy in Blackwell Forest Preserve will be the site of the Hustle Up the Hill on May 19.

    Mount Hoy in Blackwell Forest Preserve will be the site of the Hustle Up the Hill on May 19. Courtesy of Forest Preserve District of DuPage County

By Ann Piccininni
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 5/9/2019 11:19 AM

There's more than one way to fight an uphill battle.

You can take it slowly and deliberately, placing one foot in front of the other until you reach the summit. Or you can charge ahead full speed with abandon, challenging gravity until you hold sway.


Then again, you can saunter along with a leashed dog, meandering as you meet your goal.

Athletes and casual hill climbers have taken all those approaches during each of the past four Hustle Up the Hill for the Homeless events, event organizers said.

The fifth annual hill climb will again dare competitors to navigate the grassy incline Sunday, May 19, at Mount Hoy in Blackwell Forest Preserve near Warrenville.

"It's a fun family event. It's 'go at your own pace,'" said Mary Ann Palma, a member of the committee charged with organizing the event. "It's a big hill. They use it for sledding in the wintertime. It's how many times athletes can go up and down the hill in a 30-minute period."

"We just get some incredible athletes," event chairman Tim Delaney said. "It's amazing what they can do."

Palma and Delaney are part of a group that includes several members of St. Irene's Catholic Church in Warrenville along with several nonchurch members that serves as a "program partner" with Bridge Communities, a Glen Ellyn-based nonprofit charity that helps homeless families find transitional housing.

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"We tried to come up with a unique fundraiser," said Palma. "Bridge has lots of partners out there. The goal is to end the cycle of homelessness, especially for single moms."

The program is also intended to help families in crisis attain stability, she said.

"Our group has adopted two families. The purpose of the fundraiser is to support those families," Palma said.

"We move them in and get them comfortable and help them with increasing their income, reducing their debt and helping them become self-sufficient," Delaney said. "We raised somewhere around $15,000 last year. We had about 125 participants and we had sponsors. Basically, every dollar we raise goes directly to the families."

Hill climbers pay a registration fee of $30 in advance or $35 on race day. Every participant gets a goody bag and T-shirt. The competition is held in two heats, one at 9 a.m. and the second at 10 a.m. A personal trainer will be on hand to lead warm-up exercises.


Palma said results will be posted online at Winners will receive prizes such as gift cards, she said.

Delaney said Mount Hoy rises to about 836 feet above sea level. Climbers take on a total of about 150 feet each way up and down the hill.

"It's one of the highest points around," he said. "We had a guy one year, he says he does a lot of marathons. He said he felt a lot stiffer and a lot more sore than he did after doing a marathon."

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