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Burr Ridge runs race to benefit veterans

Burr Ridge opened its Veterans Memorial in 2010 to honor veterans, and now plans to host the Run For Veterans this summer. | File Photo
Burr Ridge opened its Veterans Memorial in 2010 to honor veterans, and now plans to host the Run For Veterans this summer. | File Photo

A race with hopes of going nationwide will get its start this summer in Burr Ridge.

Run for Veterans will be conducted at 9 a.m. July 27 along Burr Ridge Parkway. Funds raised through the 5-kilometer race will aid Volunteers of America-Illinois, which helps more than 250 veterans each year transition to self-sufficiency.

“We realize there are great charities out there. We want to help them achieve their goals,” said Pauline Ozols, executive director of Run for Veterans, an Oakbrook Terrace-based organization. “Our run every year will benefit a nonprofit focused on veterans’ mental health.”

In her previous job, Ozols did employee recruitment and much of her work focused on veterans.

“I met a lot of great people and a lot of organizations that helped veterans,” Ozols said. “A lot of the stories were heartbreaking, but didn’t get a lot of attention. We want to bring people together and help organizations that deal with veterans’ mental health.”

In that previous role with a financial services company, Ozols also dealt with Mickey Straub, president of Sales Activity Management, Inc. in Burr Ridge, who is also Burr Ridge mayor. Through that connection, Ozols, initially not sure about where to have the group’s first event, opted to hold it in Burr Ridge.

She said Run for Veterans was looking for an area that support veterans “and things spring-boarded from there.”

Burr Ridge will provide in-kind donations for the event — police and public works personnel and signage that has been used for other events.

“The village has been wonderful, very supportive of the event,” Ozols said.

Run for Veterans hopes to raise $30,000 for Volunteers of America–Illinois. Ozols says getting 800 participants at the event will likely get the organization to that fundraising level.

“It is a lofty goal, but I have been able to connect with people who run larger events, like the Chicago Marathon and the Shamrock Shuffle,” Ozols said. “They think we can get the participants that we want.”

Ozols said there will be entertainment each mile of the 3.1-mile race. She also noted Run for Veterans is looking to make the packet pickup a unique experience as well.

“We are trying to make the run memorable and different,” she said.

Ozols said the goal is to keep funds is the communities where the races are held. She said money earned for Volunteers of America–Illinois will go to support the agency’s efforts on the South Side of Chicago. The organization runs Hope Manor Apartments, an 80-unit housing program for homeless veterans that includes on-site services and support.

The organization also has broken ground for Hope Manor II, a housing campus for more than 100 veterans and their children.

Ozols hopes to grow the effort to eight Run for Veterans races across the country.

Burr Ridge Village Center resident Anthony Tunney supports the local race and believes the event will be a benefit to the village.

“The cause is admirable and the event should bring out a substantial number of spectators, as well as local participants,” Tunney said. “Prior to Burr Ridge, our family lived in Western Springs for more than 30 years. Western Springs has held its Tower Trot during the Memorial Day weekend for many, many years with great success. Hopefully, this event will succeed and grow into an annual event.”

Ozols said residents and local business leaders looking to help can do so in one of three ways:

• Be a sponsor for the race

• Serve as a volunteer coordinator, overseeing a group of volunteers

• Sign up to participate in the race and encourage others to be involved as well

Early registration for the race is $30 and can be completed at http://runforveterans.com/therun/register-to-run/.

For information on sponsorships and volunteering, contact Ozols at infor@runforveterans.com.

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