Run BeCAUSE Founding Committee

Run BeCAUSE Founding Committee (L to R): Katie Glew, Mason Brachman, Cooper Woolford, Grant Johnson, Sean Gorney, Matthew Burke, Sam Shonfeld, Zach Shonfeld, Grace Fagan and Helen Fagan (Photos by Lorraine Ryan.)

Two years ago, the two of us and eight friends decided to make a dream possible. We wanted to make a difference in our community and prove that no matter how young you are, you can make a lasting impact in this world. That’s when Run BeCAUSE was born.

We created the first annual Run BeCAUSE Charity Mile — a one mile race on the Green Bay Trail. We decided to raise money for a cause close to our hearts: the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Cooper’s sister, and a dear friend of the entire Run BeCAUSE Founding Committee, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when she was 10 years old.

Mimi Crabtree, executive director of JDRF Illinois, says, “The JDRF Illinois Chapter is honored to be the beneficiary of the second annual Run BeCAUSE Charity Mile. What these 10 high school students have accomplished is nothing short of remarkable. Not only have they created a professional, well-executed fundraiser that has grown tremendously in just one year, but they also managed to increase awareness about type 1 diabetes (T1D) in the process.  Their passion, determination and philanthropic spirit is an inspiration to us all.”

Creating the race was a challenge to say the least. All we started with was a dream, an abstract idea of the legendary event we wanted to create. The process of becoming a certified tax-deductible organization, obtaining permits from the Winnetka Park District to use Indian Hill Park, and approaching sponsors to support the race was a daunting task.

Redefined Fitness has been very supportive of our team along the way. Their friendly staff and awesome facilities mixed well with our group, who even used to workout with trainers there.

Eric Smoot Hemphill, owner of Redefined Fitness, says, “Redefined Fitness became involved with Run BeCAUSE because we love the fact that these young people were passionate about improving the lives of others and they were committed to making a difference. Redefined Fitness has the same philosophy. That’s why this is the perfect partnership. If they were more people with this attitude, we could surely change the world.”

Though we definitely experienced ups and downs throughout the process, we were astounded by the willingness of the community to support our cause. Many amazing businesses throughout the North Shore were willing to take a chance on a group of 16-year-olds and donate real cash to our cause.

Run BeCAUSE

Handy Living, one of our first sponsors, says, “Handy Living is thrilled to be a sponsor of Run BeCAUSE. The spirit of the original Run BeCAUSE founding members is inspiring and infectious. These high school student athletes truly care about making a positive difference in people’s lives by raising money for juvenile diabetes and bringing a community together for a wonderful morning of running and camaraderie. Last year’s inaugural event was enjoyed by all who attended and we at Handy Living couldn’t imagine a better way to direct our charitable giving.”

Handy Living adds, “Best of luck to all the graduating seniors from Run BeCAUSE. Thank you for sharing your exceptional talents by creating a lasting legacy for those who are in need.”

This year’s Run BeCAUSE Charity Mile will be held on June 11 at Indian Hill Park. Last year, participants ran on the Green Bay Trail, and this year we are so excited that participants will begin on the Green Bay Trail and finish on Wilson Street. This change in course would not have been possible without the generous help of the Winnetka Park District.

The New Trier athletic coaches were also huge supporters of our team. They encourage us to be ourselves and use our passion to compete as a drive for future success.

“Run BeCAUSE embodies the great generous spirit of some outstanding New Trier students and athletes,” says Mark Wukas, head boys track and field coach and an English teacher at New Trier. “I was especially pleased when they chose juvenile diabetes as their charity since I am a juvenile diabetic, something they did not know when they chose to support this cause.”

The Run BeCAUSE Founding Committee is busy finalizing all the details for the second annual Run BeCAUSE Charity Mile on June 11. We hope to raise more than $18,000 to exceed last year’s fundraising efforts and are working hard to make the second annual run the best year yet!