Lake Runner Blog

ABC#158, for Heartland Head Start

Thanks to Heartland Head Start for writing this article. Thanks also to Audrey Sparks and David Weber for photography, and the the 38 participants/contributors.

Sunday, October 4th was a beautiful crisp morning to gather at Rosa Parks Commons to run for Heartland Head Start!  We successfully collected $786 to directly benefit the children and families they serve.  Special thanks go out to everyone who attended and supported the event.  Coffee, juice, doughnuts, yogurt, muffins and much more was provided to keep everyone warm and bellies full!

The Constitution Trail provided different options for our runners and supporters to choose their route for the morning.  Leaves of every color were on the ground as our feet hit the pavement and our lungs were filled with fall air!  It was a memory we will always cherish.

Heartland Head Start enhances the lives of children and families who meet the federal income and eligibility guidelines in McLean and Livingston County. They do this by providing a comprehensive child and family development program for women receiving prenatal care, children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old and their families.  Over the years, we have completed multiple runs to benefit HHS.  Money raised has helped the agency pay for playground equipment, classroom supplies and various classroom projects.

HHS staff in attendance for the run included Executive Director Karen Bruning, Child Family Services Director Teri Meismer, Health and Nutrition Manager Autumn Wisz, Public Relations Coordinator Whitney Chesher and Family Resource Advocate Zari Gary.

Karen Bruning, HHS Executive Director, is incredibly thankful and appreciative by the continued support for HHS from the Lake Run Club.  She says, “the ABC run (Adventures Benefitting Children) is one of my favorite events of the year.  We are working hard to get a team to participate as well, as health and wellness is at the forefront of our services.  Meg and Merlin have been supporting our agency over the years with this run and it’s great to see community members giving back.  Our agency counts on non-federal match and community giving.  This is just one example of how great people do great things!”

Again, we appreciate everyone who attended this event and look forward to helping HHS again next year!


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ABC#157, for Seedling Theatre

ABC Run #157 on August 29 was a great success with $1,000 donated to Seedling Theatre thanks to the generosity of everyone involved. Thanks much to:
(a) Laurel & Larry Schumacher for being super hosts at Rosa Parks Commons, providing lots of great fruit, and donating a harvest bowl for the prize drawing.
(b) Donna & Rick Anhalt for supplying water & great snacks and for providing a gift basket for the drawing containing tickets to the 2021 Christmas performance plus other cool items.
(c) Sharri Pelarske for donating a harvest basket for the drawing.
(d) Meg Anderson for donating homemade chokecherry jelly for the drawing.
(e) Audrey Sparks for taking all the great photos.
(f) 48 attendees (and two other contributors) that donated a total of $1,000.

Seedling Theatre is a wonderful theatrical program for children & young adults and adults with disabilities, as well as their able bodied peers. We have completed eleven ABC runs for Seedling Theatre, generating total donations of $12,625. ABC runs have been Seedling’s major source of funding which has helped them to purchase sound equipment, pay copyright fees, give small honorariums to staff, and much more. Thanks a million to everyone for all the support.

Donna Anhalt, the Seedling Theatre director, is always so deeply touched by the outpouring of support for Seedling. Because we are following social distancing guidelines, we were unable to gather as a group to hear her thoughts about our support for Seedling Theatre.

Due to participants arriving at different times, we prearranged random numbers to pick lucky winners as they checked in. For example, if the first random number was “3”, the 3rd person to be signed in was the lucky winner. To the best of my memory, here are the lucky winners:
1. Paul Haas won the seedling gift basket.

  1. Nick Anderson won a container of powdered Gatorade mix.
    3. Barb Feeney won a jar of chokecherry jelly.
    4. Deanne Husseman won a jar of chokecherry jelly.
    5. Ann Aubry won the harvest bowl.
    6. Erin Furimsky won the harvest basket.

A great time was had by all. Thanks again for such heartwarming support.

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ABC#156, for St. Jude

ABC Run #156 was at Tipton Park on June 20. A record total of $5,110 was donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital thanks to the great generosity of 42 attendees plus 26 others that could not make it but sent us checks or donated online. The donations far exceeded expectations, with the highest total donations among all 156 ABC runs. More importantly, the donations help kids by helping St. Jude provide free lifesaving care and to continue its groundbreaking research. The kids can benefit even more when employees/retirees of companies like State Farm submit their donations for the company match.

Following health guidelines regarding Covid-19, we practiced social distancing and asked participants to show up at different times, thus no group photo. Once again, these simple rules worked perfectly.

If we would have had a group gathering, I would have loved to give special credit to Deb Schumann for attending her 101st ABC run. What an amazing level of support that Deb has shown over the 15+ years of ABC runs. Right behind her are several participants that are past 90 events already.

The food was limited to Meg’s awesome coffee cake cupcakes. Due to Covid-19 concerns we wanted to avoid having participants touch utensils. We look forward to when we can again have the potluck.

We’ve held a total of 18 ABC runs for St. Jude and the total of those runs is $30,671. The total for all 156 ABC runs is $161,615. Thanks so much to everyone for all of your support, and a special thanks to Shady Hollow Trail Runners for giving us a nice boost and a heartfelt note of tribute to Meg!

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ABC#155, The Baby Fold, 4-19-20

A pandemic threatened to end the 15 year streak of annual ABC runs for The Baby Fold. People were being asked to stay home except when necessary, keep at least 6 feet apart, and not have gatherings of more than 10 people. This at a time when the needs of children and families served by The Baby Fold are greater than ever.

We must keep the tradition alive, but how? One solution came when Aimee Beam of The Fold set up a Virtual Run with a link for online donations. Cool, but how about the tradition of meeting somewhere? Can it be done safely? I decided that runners could meet at Tipton Park from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. on April 19 if they would show up at different times and keep at least six feet apart. As an added safety incentive, we had a MUM (Most Unusual Mask) contest in which Bill Hahm won a jar of Meg’s chokecherry jelly for sporting a sneeze-guard-equipped helmet.

The result was fantastic! Donations totaled $3,867, making this the top ABC run for The Baby Fold and the 2nd highest of all 155 ABC runs). $2,770 was donated online. Checks and cash totaled $1,117, including donations for t-shirts. Attendance was 26 and another 26 donated online. The Baby Fold will benefit even more when donations by employees/retirees get submitted to their matching gift program. All this outpouring of generosity and enthusiasm is incredibly heartwarming!

Thanks so much to everyone for making this such a resounding success through your donations, participation, and support. Thanks to Rich Beal and Bill Hahm for helping host. Thanks to Meg Anderson for making coffee cake cupcakes to keep the coffee cake tradition alive safely. Thanks to everyone for magically showing up at different times so that we never had to remind anyone about the rules regarding size of gatherings or about social distancing.

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ABC#154, for MARCFirst Pediatric Therapy

ABC Run #154 was March 1 at Robyn Walter’s home. Fun event with $1,310 donated to MarcFirst Pediatric Therapy by 36 participants plus 15 others that could not attend but got a shirt. The shirt commemorates surpassing the $150,000 mark in total donations for all 153 ABC runs. Thanks much to everyone! If you are a State Farm employee/retiree and you donated $25 or more, please submit your donation to State Farm’s matching program.

Before getting the group photo and heading out for a run, Gregg Chadwick thanked us and told us a little about the exiting new developments at MARCFirst Pediatric Therapy.

It was a great day to run, especially compared to cold weather of the previous few days. Runners/walkers headed west on the constituent trail. There was a refreshment stop near the Japanese Gardens for those choosing to run at least 6 miles. Some went farther, including Mary Pinkham (8 miles) and Denise Jovanovich (10 miles).

Back at the house, Robyn Walter and Gregg Chadwick did a great job of hosting, including organizing the food buffet and mixing mimosas. Another fantastic post-run food fest!

Amazing! A great run and a great brunch with a great bunch of people, for a great cause! Thanks again for the food, donations, and friendship.

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ABC#153, Sugar Grove Nature Center

An amazing total of $1,759 was donated to Sugar Grove Nature Center by the 33 participants, some donations from those that could not attend, and a special donation from Shady Hollow Trail Runners. Thanks so much to all.

At 9:00 we gathered for a group photo and to hear from Jill Wallace, the Environmental Director. Jill thanked us for our efforts and told us that this year’s donations will go toward improvements to Imagination Grove, the children’s play area. Last year’s contributions went toward updating the educational animal displays.

After the group photo, participants opted for the trails or for the road course. I was fortunate to run a bit with my daughter, Tanya Anderson, who is visiting from Wyoming. In spite of living far away, Tanya somehow happened to attend the first three ABC runs that we had done for Sugar Grove. Speaking of firsts, three of the five participants in the first ever ABC run (January 2005) attended (Kevin Fahling, Mike Heffron, myself).

Afterward, we were treated to a great feast! Thanks to Meg Anderson for coffee cake, Stacie Sheridan for breakfast casserole, Jill Wallace for yogurt & granola, Kevin Fahling for chocolate chip cookies, Erin Furimsky for oatmeal cookies, Kathy Alexander for KIND bars, and much more (sorry I didn’t notice who brought the rest).

Thanks so much to everyone who attended, contributed, brought food, and added to the fun!

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ABC#152, Scott Early Learning Center

On January 5, a total of 32 participants generously supported the children in our community with donations that totaled $750. Scott Early Learning Center will benefit even more when State Farm employees/retirees apply under State Farm’s matching grant program. If you contributed $25 or more, please be sure to apply.

Lisa Sparks called the group together and introduced Emily Janssen of the Scott ELC. Emily graciously thanked us and talked briefly about the services the Center provides in providing affordable child care where traditional daycare may not be within reach. Then, before the group photo, I awarded the traveling ABC Big Dog award to Denny McDowell for his consistent support of ABC runs (Denny has participated in 73 of the runs. With that done, we all headed out for a four mile run, giving Dennis Killian cause to ask me “What? No one doing eight miles?”.


We gathered back at the Learning Center for the post-run feast. We had coffee cake from Meg Anderson, cookies from Kevin Fahling, cookies from Laurel Schumacher, mini-quiches from Sandra Sharp, sausage biscuits from Sharri Pelarske, hard-boiled eggs from Kristin Dixon, cinnamon rolls from Tammy Knippenberg, muffins from Deb Schumann, and fruit (bananas, apples, oranges) from Emily Janssen. Thanks so much to everyone!

The final business for the day was the awarding of an Often Running/Vitesse gift card to the 20th person signing the attendance sheet (because it is the first ABC run of 2020). The lucky winner was Larry Schumacher. If we had an award for distance traveled to attend this run, it would be Eric Fortune-Reader who traveled from New Mexico and stopped in Bloomington on his way back to his home in New York.

This is the 12th year we have conducted an ABC run for the Scott Early Learning Center. This year’s $750 brings the twelve-year total to $8,776. The total for all 152 ABC runs is $149,519. Thanks so much to everyone who has provided financial support, food, and encouragement.

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ABC#151, for Adopt-A-Family

Heartwarming! Temps were cold but hearts were warm. Thanks so much to the 43 participants who joined us at Lisa & Jay Sparks’ home on November 9 to support Adopt-A-Family with donations totaling $1,500. This will provide a great Christmas for our assigned family and maybe one more family. Those that submit their donations to their corporate matching gift program will help even more. Thanks to Lisa & Jay for a great job of hosting this event.

At 8:00, Lisa Sparks thanked everyone and briefly told us about the program and how it operates. It was great to hear how much is accomplished and how carefully the program is administered. For more information on the Adopt-A-Family program, go to:

After a group picture, we all headed out for a 5.5-mile run on the constitution trail. Mike Laffey served as the photographer and did a great job.

We were treated to a superb breakfast of blueberry pancakes prepared by Jay Sparks, coffee cake from Meg Anderson, breakfast casserole from Stacy Sheridan, biscuit/gravy casserole from Sharri Pelarske, French toast casserole from Robyn Walter, chocolate chip cookies from Kevin Fahling, eggnog from Missy McCarthy, and much more (cranberry bread, bananas, OJ, coffee). I didn’t get names of all the food providers but it was  awesome!

We have completed fifteen years of ABC runs and had another great year. Total contributions for the nine ABC runs in 2019 is $12,851. The total for all 151 ABC runs is $148,734. Looking forward to another great year starting January 11 at Sugar Grove.

Thanks so much for all your support!

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Tips to Stay Visible While Running

Submitted by: Rachel Gaffney

Running is one of the healthiest forms of exercise. According to the American College of Cardiology, running for just 10 minutes every day can extend your life by several years. While it’s often more peaceful to run on a designated jogging trail or park, it’s common for most of us to run where motorists travel. Here are some top tips & techniques you should keep in mind on your next run to ensure others on the road see you.

Stick to the Sidewalk

Sidewalks are usually safer bets when running. You’ll have almost no chance of getting hit by a car when running on sidewalks. Just keep in mind that you should be vocal when overtaking pedestrians. Don’t expect anyone to stay aware of their surroundings—a simple “on your left” will do wonders for making sure pedestrians don’t step in front of you last-minute. If you’re running in an area with no sidewalk….

Run Against Traffic

There is no federal law stating which side of the road you should run on, so the choice is yours. If you don’t already make it a habit to run against traffic, you should start. Running against traffic isn’t necessarily about giving motorists more time to see you, but it’s so you have time to dive out of the way if a car approaches quickly.

Dress for the Time of Day

What you wear makes a big difference when it comes to visibility. Choose your outfit according to the time of day you intend to run:

Daytime runners should wear at least one piece of florescent clothing. Think bright yellows, oranges, and greens here. While running at night, try wearing something that’s reflective. It’s hard to see anything at night, but reflective clothing is easily seen with a car’s headlights.

Tips For Staying Visible While Running

Carry a Light

Speaking of running at night, always have a flashlight on hand. Flashlights are useful for two reasons—a bouncing light is often easier for motorists to see, and it’ll help you see uneven pavement or potential hazards on the sidewalk. Tripping or falling on uneven sidewalks was the #1 cause of pedestrian injuries in 2012, accounting for 24% of cases according to Pedestrian-Bicycle

Run in Groups!

Two runners are easier to see than one. Three runners is a downright crowd! If you want to make sure motorists give you space, run in a group. Just try not to run more than two abreast to not be a sidewalk hog.

Tips For Staying Visible While Running

Follow Traffic Lights at Intersections

While it might be tempting to just run through most intersections, keep in mind that cars travel much faster than you, and you’re a lot harder to see than another vehicle. Follow all traffic lights as you would if you were driving a car. When running through intersections, it’s also a good idea to ensure a motorist sees you. Waiting for him to make eye contact and wave, or waving to the motorist yourself are good ways to ensure the path is clear at intersections.

These are just a few tips you can incorporate into your next run

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ABC#150, for Heartland Head Start

The weather was good on October 6 for the 24 participants, sunny and temps in the 50s. Heartland Head Start received donations totaling $748, including two donations from runners that could not attend. Thanks everyone!
We wondered if the trails at Sugar Grove would be OK but Jessica Sondgeroth assured us that she encountered good conditions during her 18 mile run the day before (except for a couple of downed trees).

Shortly after 8:00, we gathered for the group photo and to hear a nice thank you from Karen Bruning, Executive Director of Heartland Head Start. Then we were off and running. The group split fairly evenly between trail runners and road runners. Thanks to Pete Cleary for taking photos of the trail runners while Meg and I took to the roads.
The menu was awesome as usual with breakfast casserole, coffee cake, bagels & cream cheese, doughnuts, mini-muffins, cookies, fruit (cantaloupe, pineapple, grapes, bananas), Clif bars, orange juice, coffee, and more. Thanks to all who brought food.

Thanks to Angela Funk (Director, Sugar Grove Nature Center) for getting things ready for us even though she could not join us. Thanks to Karen Bruning and to Sharon Cochran (member of Friends of Heartland Head Start) for helping host.










The funds raised by all twelve runs for Heartland add up to a heartwarming total of $8,597. Thanks so much to every participant for your fellowship, sharing food, and generous financial support. Your support helps Heartland Head Start achieve their mission to “enhance the lives of children and families by providing a comprehensive child and family development program for 3-5 year old children and their families who meet the federal guidelines in McLean and Livingston counties in Central Illinois.”


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