Proud to Run celebrated 35 years with its annual 5K run/walk and 10K run June 25 at The Grove just north of Montrose Harbor. The event featured more than 1,800 participantsan event recordand was one of many activities that took place during Chicago's LGBTQ Pride Week.
"This event has been an integral part of Chicago Pride since 1982," said Proud to Run co-director Justin Koziatek. "The outpouring of community love is humbling. I'm truly grateful for this day and most importantly, the beneficiaries we've supported over the years."
Ryan Hagerty, Proud to Run co-director, noted the 150 plus race-day volunteers and all volunteer board of directors who made this event possible.
Proud to Run has raised more than $450,000 for a variety of local LGBTQ organization since its founding. This year's beneficiaries are About Face Theater, the Center on Halsted (the Center) and Trans Tech Social Enterprises.
Fitness Formula Club Halsted led participants in warm-up exercises before the race.
Proud to Run board members Dino Giannoulis and Hadeis Safi read the names of the victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre ahead of the race.
Urban Pooch did a dog agility demonstration and the Chicago Spirit Brigade performed following the race. Music was provided by DJ FahrenHITE Entertainment Group.
Tom Chiolaretired Circuit Court judge and 1980s Proud to Run co-directorspoke about the history of the race. Chiola said in its early years, Proud to Run was a place where the LGBTQ community could be out and proud at a time when there were no legal protections; that by participating one was making a political statement.
About Face Theater's Development Director Ben Sprunger, the Center's CEO Tico Valle and Trans Tech Social Enterprises' founder and CEO Angelica Ross were on hand to speak about the work their organizations do for the LGBTQ community.
Awards were given out to the top finishers of both the 5K and 10K races.
First place winners in the 5K race were Vanessa Righeimer (women), Ian LaBelle (men) and Ronen Kohn (non-binary) while the 10K race winners were Kaelyn Dodd (women), Ryan Gordyan (men) and Brendan Smith (non-binary).
The 5K women's team winner was Morning Bird Chicago, the 5K men's team winner was Killer Margaritas and the 5K mixed team winner was Proud to be Bain while the 10K mixed team winner was Rynasty and the 10K men's team winners were The Spidermen. There were no 10K women's teams.
Following the awards ceremony, U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, vice-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, spoke to the crowd about the Equality Actfederal legislation that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the recent sit-in by House Democrats to demand votes on gun control legislation.
"If I look a little tired right now it's because I learned something this week," said Quigley. "The House of Representatives is an extraordinary and historic place but the chamber isn't a good place to sleep overnight. Doing a sit-in with Rep. John Lewis is pretty spectacular. When Dr. King said the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice he was right. We passed hate-crimes legislation, repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and marriage equality is the law of the land, but we're not there yet. A couple of weeks ago we learned that the hard way because when your community is targeted with a weapon designed for a theater of war and you can't give blood to save their lives, that's a problem. We're going to get rid of that [gay] blood ban."
Quigley outlined all the ways the LGBTQ community is affected by the lack of a national Equality Act. He explained that in over half the states there are no protections for LGBTQ people in housing, employment, public accommodations, public education, juries, credit and other areas. Quigley noted the Congressional Black Caucus endorsement of the Equality Act and the work they're doing to ensure its passage.
Sponsors included CNA (celebrating its 12th year of sponsorship), Universal Sole, Urban Pooch, PepsiCo, CMSA, U.S. Cellular, Whole Foods, Vita Coco, Orbitz, Thorek Memorial Hospital, WBEZ, Factset, Power Crunch, Cliff Bar, USG, Fitness Formula Club, Aligned Modern Health and ChicagoPride.com .
See www.proudtorun.org/ for more information .