Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  BLACKLINES

Bonnie's Challenge: Marathon Woman
by Kennette Crockett
2003-09-01

This article shared 9149 times since Mon Sep 1, 2003
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Sistafriend is the word that most accurately describes V103's radio personality Bonnie DeShong. For many years, she has been the voice of urban Chicago bringing her humor and warmth to thousands of listeners on V103 from 3-7 p.m. with the V-Crew.

Her humor is in fact contagious—a few minutes into our conversation I find myself smiling, and my smiles turn into downright laughter as Bonnie shares her experiences in the radio industry, especially how much fun she has with her coworkers.

Whether she is talking about the radio show or her position as the community relations' director, you can sense that she is for real. She also feels connected to her listeners. 'To me it is the fun part of my job [community relations] because I really enjoy being a part of the community and working in the community,' shares DeShong. 'I enjoy talking to people and helping people. I am on two boards. I had to cut down a lot. So I work on the South Side with South Central Community Services and then in the Maywood area with PLCCA, which is also a social-service agency.'

What looks liking cutting down to DeShong would still steamroll many people, but DeShong takes it in stride and has decided to add one more piece to the pile. She, along with several other Chicago media personalities, has registered for the AIDS Marathon training program.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the HIV virus continues to be a major threat facing the African-American community. Although Blacks account for 12 percent of the U.S. population, they represented half of the new cases reported in 2001. As of two years ago, more than 168,000 African Americans had died from AIDS. The spread of disease among Black women is even more alarming.

DeShong is no stranger to walkathons and raising money for causes. She organizes groups to walk for breast cancer and other groups. She organized the Bonnie DeShong V103 Walkathon Team, a group of listeners that walk in at least 10 walkathons a year for charity. Yet, the thought of doing a marathon is still staggering even for seasoned pros, and not something to take lightly.

'I have to give it to Oprah, you know you see her out there training and when she was doing those marathons, I was like you go girl because it takes a lot of effort and I didn't know at first if I would want to put myself through that,' she said. Yet the cause is more important than sore muscles and with the rising number of African-Americans contracting the disease, DeShong wanted to do something. 'What I am hoping is that it will bring more serious attention to it. Right now in the African American community some of us think, 'Oh it can't happen to us; you know it is no problem. I am careful or that is somebody's else's disease.' And it is not, the rise in the African-American female community and with senior citizens is through the roof and the thing is to bring awareness and keep telling the folks when I am on the air that I am running for AIDS. The Chicago Marathon is just a teeny tiny part but I want them to know that the money that I am raising is going for AIDS research and the AIDS Foundation.'

She pauses and her voice has a quality of compassion and fervor as she continues sharing her thoughts: 'I want them to get a spark and say, 'oh OK this is for AIDS'. So maybe when I say something they will listen and when they go to have sex, or if they are doing or thinking about drug usage or anything, maybe they will think that they need to be a little more protective. I would like to think that by me doing this that it would bring more self-awareness to people.'

'Seniors?' I ask. 'It floored me,' says DeShong. 'I said, 'what are they still doing that?' We both laugh but we are aware that a rise in the African American senior population shows that the disease is a silent epidemic. It shows that safe sex needs to be practiced regardless of age or race. It also shows that this is everyone's problem within the Black community.

DeShong hopes that the media attention will spark everyday people to get involved with the marathon. 'People want to do things; like with our travel trips, it makes people feel that they can do things when they see us doing it. They think, 'if they can do it, then I can do it.' So if we get out there, LeeAnn (Trotter), Portia (Stevens) and myself and people know what we look like and we are saying, 'OK we are out there and we can do it. We are going to do this for this cause, come and join us. We'll do it together; yeah it may take us eight hours,'' a smile creeps into her voice, 'but it will take us eight hours together and you have that support. I want people to know that all ages can do this [the marathon]. That was my concern. LeeAnn, WNUA's Portia Stevens, and I are all in different age groups. I am 50 and I will be 51 when I run this and that is OK and I can do it and it may take me eight hours or 10 hours or however long it takes me, I CAN DO THIS. I may walk across the line, crawl across the line (laughs), or be carried across the line but I can do this.'

Her can-do mentality has always been part of DeShong's personality. A Champaign, Illinois native, DeShong graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in theater. Her foray into radio came as a surprise to her but one that she is glad she took. Her voice just naturally suited itself for radio and voiceovers. 'I used to do some voiceover work with Richard Pegue and he was working at WGCI. They were getting ready to start a traffic department and he asked me did I want to do it. And I said I don't know how and he said we would teach you and I said OK and that is how I got into radio. It was definitively a step from God. I was blessed to be teamed up with Tom Joyner who helped me to develop my personality and I worked with Doug Banks and some of the greatest guys, including Tony Richards, who I am working with now.'

In terms of training, DeShong is doing the marathon training along with her own thing. Her trainer, Cornell McClenan of Naturally Fit, is helping to make sure that she is ready when September arrives. 'It is a natural way of training—no drugs are used and he watches your diet and it is a great and wonderful stress-free way of training; he is fabulous and I just love him to death.'

Consistency in a fitness program is a hard thing but DeShong believes she can stay on track. 'They keep telling me that the streets are lined with people cheering you on and between thinking about that and thinking about what I am actually running for that will keep me going.'

I have one final thing to ask of her before our conversation ends, 'Finish this sentence for me … Preparing for this is …' She laughs and without hesitation answers. 'Preparing for this is like pledging Delta Sigma Theta.'

AIDS Foundation of Chicago hosts Marathon training workshops. Call (312) 765-0210, www.aidsmarathon.com .

This article also appeared in the Aug. 20 Windy City Times.


This article shared 9149 times since Mon Sep 1, 2003
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

WORLD Ugandan law, Japan, Cass report, Tegan and Sara, Varadkar done 2024-04-12
- Ugandan LGBTQ+-rights activists asked the international community to mount more pressure on Uganda's government to repeal an anti-gay law that the country's Constitutional Court refused to nullify, PBS reported. Activist ...


Gay News

U.S. women's soccer team caught in anti-LGBTQ+ controversy 2024-04-10
- On April 9, the U.S. Women's National Team (USWNT) narrowly defeated Canada to win the SheBelieves Cup trophy. However, there were boos on the field for the USWNT—due primarily to an LGBTQ+-related controversy involving one player: ...


Gay News

Coach/activist Tara VanDerveer retires from Stanford after 38 seasons 2024-04-10
- Stanford University women's basketball coach and gender-rights advocate Tara VanDerveer has retired after 38 seasons, media outlets reported. In 45 years as a head coach at Idaho (1978-80), Ohio State ...


Gay News

Chicago Red Stars announce first-ever match at Wrigley Field on June 8 2024-04-09
--From a press release - CHICAGO (April 9, 2024) — The undefeated Chicago Red Stars announced today that they will host Bay FC at historic Wrigley Field Saturday, June 8, at 6:30 p.m. CT, making it the first National Women's Soccer ...


Gay News

Black LGBTQIA leaders applaud U of South Carolina head coach Staley for standing up for trans athlete inclusion 2024-04-08
--From a press release - WASHINGTON — On Sunday, April 7, the University of South Carolina's women's basketball team won the NCAA National Championship. Ahead of the championship game, South Carolina's head coach Dawn Staley made comments in support of transgend ...


Gay News

NAIA bans trans athletes from women's sports 2024-04-08
- The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced on April 8 that athletes will only be allowed to compete in women's sports if they were assigned female at birth, CBS Sports reported. The NAIA's Council of ...


Gay News

HRC president responds to NAIA vote to ban transgender women from playing sports 2024-04-08
--From a press release - WASHINGTON —Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, responded to the National Association of ...


Gay News

Lambda Legal: NAIA proposed transgender sports ban disappointing, harmful reversal 2024-04-08
- Lambda Legal: NAIA Proposed Transgender Sports Ban a Disappointing and Harmful Reversal "The NAIA announcement sends a dangerous message, is inconsistent with the law and science, and undercuts the organization's ...


Gay News

Blackhawks celebrate Pride Night 2024-04-03
- On March 26, the Chicago Blackhawks held its annual Pride Night at the United Center. The home team defeated the Calgary Flames 3-1 as Jason Dickinson scored twice and Petr Mrazek made 38 saves for the ...


Gay News

Red Stars tie Orlando, remain unbeaten 2024-03-30
- The Chicago Red Stars remained unbeaten in their first three regular-season matches after a 1-1 draw with the Orlando Pride on March 29. It's the first time since 2019 that the club has gone unbeaten in ...


Gay News

Four Chicago Red Stars receive international call-ups 2024-03-28
- CHICAGO (March 28, 2024) — Chicago Red Stars Nádia Gomes, Natalia Kuikka, Alyssa Naeher and Mallory Swanson have been tabbed to represent their countries during the April international window. Forwards Gomes and Swanson are set to ...


Gay News

2024 'Nike Basketball Camps with the Chicago Sky' announced 2024-03-28
- The Chicago Sky officially announced, in a debut collaboration with Nike Sports Camps, 2024 summer basketball camps for Chicagoland youth. Two camps for boys and girls ages 7-15 will take place June 17-21 and July 8-12 ...


Gay News

Be here, be queer, play polo: Gay Polo League creates safe athletic space for LGBTQ community 2024-03-26
- LGBTQ+ athletic clubs aren't too hard to come by, offering a variety of sports such as softball, soccer and more in cities across the country. But LGBTQ+ athletes would be harder pressed to find someplace to ...


Gay News

Chicago Red Stars stay undefeated 2024-03-24
- Chicago Red Stars stay undefeated On March 23, the Chicago Red Stars took down the Seattle Reign FC 2-1 in the club's home opener at SeatGeek Stadium. With the win, the Red Stars are now 2-0-0 ...


Gay News

ACTIVITIES Pickleball, fine eats and fun are all at SPF 2024-03-21
- Despite the fact that it was invented in 1965, pickleball has only really entered the national consciousness within the last few years. However, there really hadn't been a large indoor dedicated space in Chicago for the ...


 


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.