The Superhero 5K is perhaps one of our most anticipated events of the year. What in your opinion makes the 5K so special?
Nick: I think part of it is that, coming out of winter, as Chicagoans, we are so cooped up all winter long. The Superhero 5K is so active. It’s outside. It’s physical. It’s also a welcoming way for people to get involved. All skill levels can participate. I’m by no means the best runner, but I’m still able to feel like I’m really engaged. Whether you’re walking or running – going for your best 5K time or just there to finish the course, it’s a great opportunity for everyone to join in.
Paul: Yes, and it’s a great opportunity to get the whole family involved supporting JOURNEYS’ mission. Our gala in the fall and Women’s Luncheon in the spring are not necessarily family-oriented, but this one is. I’ve been a runner for 25 years, and I really love that the 5K allows you to get outside and enjoy the outdoors with loved ones while also supporting our neighbors in need.
It’s our 10th anniversary Superhero 5K! What are some of the things that you are most looking forward to this year?
Nick: I think the 10th anniversary of the 5K is made even more special as it coincides with the opening of our new building. It will be a great time to tell our community about what’s in store for JOURNEYS with our new space and capabilities. I’m really looking forward to talking to participants about the future of JOURNEYS.
Paul: Running is meaningful to me because it’s something I can do with friends and loved ones. That makes it so enjoyable. That’s how I feel when I’m at the 5K. We’re all there for the common purpose of helping people experiencing homelessness in our community. It’s also a great opportunity to broaden our message, to get more people involved and spread the word. As a runner, I enjoy taking something I love to do and use it to do something good for others.
How has the 5K changed or developed during your tenure as event chairs?
Nick: It’s been great to watch the 5K gain a really loyal following of participants over the last few years, despite the pandemic! I think it’s also the affordability of the event that keeps bringing people back. It’s not only a great event; it’s also a way to regularly engage with JOURNEYS’ mission over the long term. It’s been so rewarding to watch people come back year after year and really get into the spirit of the 5K.
Paul: We’ve also really transformed in terms of the event itself. A few years ago, the 5K was in the streets of downtown Palatine, which was very fun. We’ve since moved it into the Forest Preserves, and this will be our second year at Deer Grove East. I think putting the event out there makes it safer and more pleasant. It’s an enclosed course so there’s no risk of traffic. It makes it a bit safer for families with small children who want to come out and participate.
How have your professional or personal experiences impacted your work with JOURNEYS - or vice versa?
Nick: My work with the Palatine Police Department and with JOURNEYS play off each other really well. They augment each other. My work as a JOURNEYS board member has allowed me to learn more about housing policy and has in turn taught me how we can help people experiencing homelessness more effectively. There’s a lot of political attention these days regarding people without homes, and my work with JOURNEYS has helped me to stay grounded in the fact that ultimately, it’s an issue related to people, and that we really need to emphasize the person as we think about solutions.
Paul: I worked for 40 years in downtown Chicago. I took the train in every day, and when I’d get off, I’d see people on the streets with signs, with little cartons or cups for donations. And it’s not something you can ever feel good about seeing, but it’s difficult to figure out what you can do to help. I’ve never had to worry about where I’m going to rest my head at night or where my next meal is coming from, but it’s a real experience that happens right in our very community. It isn’t just in downtown Chicago. I think often about how my work with JOURNEYS has broadened my field of vision and enabled me to do more to help.
Nick: The 5K is such an incredible event. We’re a nonprofit in the Chicagoland area that has one of the biggest effects on the community it serves. I would love to see people come out to support JOURNEYS’ mission and growth.
Paul: Life is short, and every day counts. I think about the ways I can change – the ways our community can change – to keep helping the people in our community who need it most. We’ve got something good and we’re moving in a great direction. There have been hiccups and bumps in the past few years, but I’m excited for the opportunity to come together to celebrate not only the 10th anniversary of our Superhero 5K, but also how far JOURNEYS has come over the years.
To register for the the Superhero 5K, visit our Run Signup page. For sponsorship opportunities, visit our event page on our website.
Transcribed and arranged by Roxanne Gentry, Marketing Associate
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