8th Annual Harvest Hustle draws hundreds of runners
By Romi Herron For The Courier-News October 23, 2012 6:06PM
The Harvest Hustle event drew hundreds of participants and raised money for a new park for children with special needs.
Updated: November 25, 2012 11:28AM
With hundreds of balloons, a few straw bales and several dozen community members gathered along the Fox River Trail, “Harvest Hustle” brought together conditioned runners, aspiring competitors and plenty of supporters. The eighth-annual event, hosted by the South Elgin Parks & Recreation FUNdation and the village of South Elgin, was a 7K run and two-mile walk that raised money for a local all-abilities playground project.
More than 300 registered for the event, which was emceed by Bob Kearns, owner of Country Insurance in South Elgin.
At the finish line communicating the runners’ numbers on radio was Jim Reuter, director of the South Elgin Parks & Recreation Department, who said about $170,000 has been raised for the park project, estimated at $1 million. He said Oct. 17 the dollar amount raised through Harvest Hustle was not available yet but that the community is pulling together to make the park a reality.
“We hope to have some type of work being in summer of 2013,” said Reuter, noting the engineering firm of HLR (Hampton, Lenzini and Renwick) has committed to a significant in-kind services donation. Reuter said a $10,000 grant from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation has also been a boon. But also invaluable are donations from local supporters, he said.
“The local schools have done a “Change for Change” program,” he said. “Kids brought in their change to school, and it is going toward the project. ... An anonymous donor matched the (contributions) at a couple of schools, too.”
Angie Jablonski — triathlon, marathon and run club coach for The Centre of Elgin — led the warm-ups for the event and coordinated her group’s participation. Jablonski — a certified personal trainer who is also an emergency medical technician, swim coach, lifeguard, boot camp leader and firefighter — said events like Harvest Hustle provide additional motivation for runners.
On Jablonski’s team were Julie Filson of Elgin, Charlie Schultz of Elgin, Ashley Albrecht of South Elgin, Gail Cohen of Elgin and Irma Jetel of Elgin.
“I started up the running club in April,” said Jablonski. “It was for 5K, 10K, half- and full marathons, and it gives everyone something to work toward.”
Meeting up to three days a week at the Centre for sessions that last nearly an hour, the running club’s members select races from a list Jablonski shares with them.
Jablonski placed sixth in the Female 15-49 category with a time of 35 minutes and 13 seconds.
Other top finishers included Ally Suyak, 12, of South Elgin, finishing first in the Boys & Girls 14 and Under category with a total time of 31:55; Julie Lee, 43, of South Elgin, finishing first in the Female 15 to 49 category with a total time of 33:33; Chris Scheider, 32, of South Elgin, finishing first in the Male 15 to 49 category with a total time of 26:11; Abbe Burke, 54, of Lake Forest, who finished first in the Female 50 and Over category with a total time of 39:34; and Tim Reinert, 53, of Elgin, who finished first in the Male 50 and Over category with a total time of 28:43.
Registration fees ranged from $10 to $33, and recognitions were given for Top Five 14 & Under (Boys & Girls); Top Five Female Runners (15 & up); Top Five Male Runners (15 & up).
The South Elgin Parks & Recreation Department is planning a Dec. 9 excursion to Chicago, from which the proceeds will also benefit the project, Reuter said.
After the top finishers were recognized, dozens of Harvest Hustle participants walked to South Elgin’s Annual Pumpkin Patch and Fall Festival at County Park, where activities included the Community Garage Sale and Pumpkin Plunge.
More information is at www.southelgin.com.