Makin’ Tracks in River Forest draws out 400 for WSSRA
Nathan Kennedy of Bolingbrook makeshis way along Park Avenue in River Forest during the 15th Annual Makin' Tracks 5K Run and Walk Saturday. Kennedy won the race with a time of 16:38. | J.Geil~For Sun-Times Media
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Updated: October 21, 2012 2:11PM
RIVER FOREST — For Lisa Shanahan, having the starting line of the Community Bank Makin’ Tracks 5K Run a block from her house is just a bonus.
Shanahan, a member of the West Suburban Special Recreation Association board for 10 years, would be in the WSSRA fundraiser if it were miles away. She has run in the race for the past six years and normally turns the event into a family function.
She normally gets her son and husband to walk in the race. One year, Shanahan had a family reunion in the area and got a couple of her sisters to run, as well.
She also uses the race to connect with neighbors, friends and WSSRA board members, and to raise awareness of what WSSRA does. Her son having autism and being a long-term client of WSSRA, Shanahan knows well the agency’s importance.
Her son Marty, now 21 years old, has been involved with WSSRA programs since the age of 3.
“(WSSRA) is a really big part of his life,” Shanahan said. “He is a full-time student and WSSRA provides him access to the community on a regular basis.”
Marty will soon be in a Zumba dance class, a new program for the recreation association. He is involved in “Weekly Workout,” where participants go to Franklin Park to use the community’s Fitness Center; “Outdoor Adventures,” where participants go hiking, on train rides and to museums; and Marty’s favorite, “City Slickers,” where special needs patrons head into Chicago for Saturday evenings out.
“You try to provide opportunities for your child as a family,” Lisa Shanahan said. “It is so nice that West Suburban Special Recreation helps with that.”
Shanahan said the WSSRA board sets an annual minimum fund-raising goal of $25,000, which goes for participant scholarships for the agency’s summer day camp and other programs.
WSSRA Executive Director Marianne Birko said the $5,000 to $10,000 that the Makin’ Tracks race raises goes a long way toward meeting that goal.
She said Saturday’s race went “very well, with beautiful weather” and helped increase the visibility of the recreation association. More than 400 participants took part in this year’s event, which was near Concordia University.
“The race is really valuable in generating public awareness. We have great partners that promote the event on our behalf,” Birko said. “It is a valuable thing that all communities need to do.”
The race, presented by Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest, the River Forest Park District, Concordia University Chicago and Fenwick High School, started out 15 years ago as a fundraiser for the Concordia track, which is also used by Fenwick High School.
Makin’ Tracks has raised close to $100,000 for its recipients during its 15-year run, Community Bank Marketing Officer Frank Frigo said.
He said the bank supported this year’s event with 10 volunteers working Makin’ Tracks and another 10 bank employees running in the race. Frigo said the bank promoted the race the week before by having employees wear race T-shirts inside the financial institution.
“It is a great family event, with activities for kids,” Frigo said. “We’ve got a lot of families who come back year after year to participate.”
(Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the amount of money raised by Makin’ Tracks over the past 15 years.)