Running 10 Marathons in 10 Days for Families in Need

  • Robert Swiderski running 10 marathons in 10 days for families in need.

    Robert Swiderski running 10 marathons in 10 days for families in need. Courtesy of Brian Walsh

Submitted by Brian Walsh
Updated 10/20/2020 9:15 AM

Running a marathon is a huge accomplishment; running 10 of them, back-to-back, over the course of 10 days, well, that might be just a little but crazy, or driven perhaps?

Driven is a great way to describe Basket Brigade of Suburban Chicago board member Robert Swiderski. Last year, Robert ran 200 miles over the course of four days in order to raise awareness and hope for families-in-need.


Swiderski's journeys will take him through each of the 10 communities that the Basket Brigade serves: Streamwood, Hanover Park, Bartlett, Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Elk Grove, Elgin and South Elgin. If you'd like to join Robert on any of his runs, you can see the starting times and places on their website or Facebook page from Oct. 16 through Oct. 25.

The Basket Brigade of Suburban Chicago delivers complete Thanksgiving dinners to local area families-in-need, and is all about hope. When they deliver a complete Thanksgiving meal to a family-in-need, they are not just delivering a turkey and some fixings, they are delivering hope.

The secret to LIVING is GIVING. A simple principle that is the guiding force behind the Basket Brigade of Suburban Chicago.

"When our volunteers show up and hand that meal to a family-in-need, it is just about as impactful experience for the person delivering the meal as it is for the family receiving it," says Basket Brigade founder Brian Walsh.

When asked about the 260 miles that he'll be packing on over this 10 day period, Swiderski says, "while that is some serious running, when I consider that there are more than 2,000 local families-in-need that I'll be running for. I'll do this twice over if I must to make sure that every one of these men, women and children get fed this Thanksgiving."

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"This year, as it became more apparent that the need was going to be greater, the resources fewer, and the delivery process much more challenging," continues Swiderski, "this is a way that I could show my support for both the families that we serve, and the communities where they live."

"While Robert is running his 10 marathons, we also wanted to come up with a way for people who might not want to put on quite as many miles, so we are also hosting our first Virtual Race this year, called the Run for Hope," says Walsh.

In the aftermath of the Chicago Marathon's cancellation along with all other 5K, 10K and half marathons, the Basket Brigade of Suburban Chicago saw an opportunity for people in the running community to complete their race that they have literally been training for year-round.

The Basket Brigade Run for Hope is not just for runners though. They have set it up so that anyone, of any fitness level can participate.

"You can run, walk or bike any distance you choose," says Swiderski, "and you can break it up into as many days needed, using our website to log your progress. The goal is to complete your miles prior to Nov. 30, so you can get your race medal and T-shirt."


"We know that not everybody wants to run 200 miles like Robert did, myself included," says Walsh.

"In a Virtual Race, you can run your race anywhere, at your own pace, in your own time, and every mile you run, you know that you are helping to feed local area families-in-need," says Swiderski.

Race registration is $95, and includes your printable race bib, a finisher's certificate, medal, and T-shirt, as well as some other goodies from some of our generous sponsors. And best of all, each registration feeds two local area families-in-need.

In its sixth year, the Basket Brigade set their goal to deliver 2,020 complete Thanksgiving dinners to local area families-in-need. Which means over 10,000 men, women and children will receive a meal. Each Thanksgiving basket feeds a family of five, and includes a turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and more. Meals are delivered in person on the Saturday before Thanksgiving by teams of volunteers who all know that the secret to LIVING is GIVING. You can sign up to deliver Thanksgiving meals on Saturday, Nov. 21 on their website.

Helping to make the Basket Brigade Run for Hope possible is Crystal Lake-based Ornery Mule Racing who has included the Basket Brigade of Suburban Chicago in their Virtual Hennepin Hundred race series. Ornery Mule Racing's motto is "Kindness, community, just ordinary people doing epic things!"


The Basket Brigade of Suburban Chicago was founded by Brian and Cherish Walsh with the mission "to put the GIVING back into Thanksgiving." Founded in memory of Brian's mother, Lorraine M. Walsh, the Basket Brigade of Suburban Chicago combines aspects of fundraising and volunteerism along with personal growth.

Basket Brigade Assembly Day is always the Saturday before Thanksgiving, so that it arrives in plenty of time for the families receiving them to make their plans without the stress of trying to figure out how to pay for it all. In the past five years, the Basket Brigad's Assembly Day has relied on hundreds of volunteers to package the boxes.

"This year, in order to keep everybody safe, and in order to honor the gathering limits of Illinois, we are solely looking for Delivery Drivers to bring the meals to the homes," says Walsh.

Recipients are nominated by a variety of sources including private nominations on the Basket Brigade's website as well as names provided by other local nonprofits, churches, daycares, schools and other social service organizations.

In its previous five years, the Basket Brigade of Suburban Chicago delivered complete Thanksgiving dinners to 195 families in 2015, 268 families in 2016, and 763 families in 2017, 1,335 families in 2018, and 2,000 families in 2019, delivering food, a message of hope and changing lives along the way.

"The message that we hope to pass along to our volunteers, our children, and the community," concludes Brian Walsh, "that the secret to LIVING is GIVING."

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