Michelle Lincoln is still a little stunned, but not in a bad way at all. She still is processing through the myriad emotions and experiences that, after nine months of planning, a 5K charity run in Chicago came to fruition in one full day — Saturday, Sept. 22 — and then was over.
“After months of hard work, it was incredible to see it all come together,” Michelle said. “What a life-changing experience!”
The 25-year-old St. Charles woman and three friends, who until recently also lived in St. Charles, organized a fundraiser in Chicago to benefit the city’s homeless. The Change of Pace 5K Run was far more successful than Michelle imagined, and it had a far greater impact on her than she expected.
“It went really well,” she said. “The weather was less than ideal — it was very cold and very rainy, and there were a couple of minutes where the skies just opened up and hailed while we were setting up.”
Conditions changed as the clock ticked toward the run, however. The day went from cold to brisk, which is not a bad thing for a run.
“Right before the race, the sun came out and it was beautiful,” she said.
By the numbers:
- Nearly 100 people turned out to run. “We weren’t really sure what to expect for the first year, but I was really pleased,” she said.
- More than 40 people turned out to set up for the race, help during it, and tear everything down and pack it up afterward. “It was really cool — some of them were our friends, but a lot of our friends ran in the race,” Michelle said. “A lot of them were through volunteermatch.com and (in response) to us just posting it in some places — a lot of it was people just coming out to help on their own volition and wanting to be part of it.”
- Final numbers are not in yet, but it looks like the run brought in more than $6,000 that went directly toward providing clothing to the homeless.
- Raised more than $5,000 in in-kind donations. “I think that was really encouraging for me to see businesses to get behind it,” she said. “I kind of expected to have a lot of doors slammed in my face … there there were people wanting to do something good. I think it kind of restored (my faith) in humanity ...”
It also meant a brief reunion for Michelle with her three friends. James Biagioni, and Christina and David Richter worked with Michelle to pull the run together. But in the month before the run, providence drew them apart — Biagioni moved to Seattle, Wash., and the Richters headed off to Michigan. But they were all back together on Sept. 22.
The day left an emotional impact that Michelle admits that she still is sorting through.
“I thought it was really encouraging to have people wanting to have some sort of part in what we were doing and to believe in it,” she said. “They were really a lot of good people, just with good hearts who were serving.
“The atmosphere in the park was really great … an amazing sense of community,” she said. “I wasn’t so sure if, because it was so cold, whether people would stick around, that they would just run their race and then go …
“But I watched the last runner cross the finish line, and when I came back, people had hung around, and music was playing, and just seeing people who didn’t know each other all meeting, and this sense of such energy,” she said.
“I really think there is something about the grassroots, doing something together, starting from nothing … it was just cool to see” how the web of people came together for this event, Michelle said. “Synergy — energy and community, and it was tangible.”
“I couldn’t have imagined better,” she said. “I’ve been to a million races before where you just go, you run and leave. I never meet anybody, never talk to anybody, I just do my thing. This was’t like that at all. People were really invested.”
The pointed to one man named Jake, who served as the race timer. Michelle said that when they were trying to find a race timer, many were booked up. Jake took on the Change of Pace 5K Run, but did so “at a huge discount,” she said. “So when he came, he walked in like he already had a sense of ownership because he had already given something to it.”
That was reflected in everything he did that day, she added. “To seem him super excited about our runners and cheering them along was such a cool thing.”
After the race, Michelle said, representatives of KNO Clothing (knoclothing.com), an ethical clothing company dedicated to clothing and housing the homeless, used the fund to purchase some clothing and some food. KNO Clothing was a charity partner in the run. Michelle said the teacher strike in Chicago somehow has negatively affected food donations to the homeless, so some food items were donated to the homeless in addition to the purchase of clothing items for them.
Michelle said she is not certain whether there will be a second Change of Pace 5K Run — adding that she’s been asked that question a lot since the race concluded.
To be honest, she said, she is still trying to process everything that came out of the experience — very many good things.
More photos of the run can be viewed on the Change of Pace 5K Facebook page.
- Chicago Charity Race Has Roots in St. Charles
- Raising Money to Help the Homeless
- About the Change of Pace 5K