Allison Gunnink, pictured with her father, Glen Marcum, is running in the First Midwest Bank Half Marathon on Sunday in Palos Heights for charity. Her family was impacted by cancer and she wants to do something to help. | Supplied photo
What: First Midwest Bank Half Marathon & 10K
Where: Route 83 and 76th Avenue, Palos Heights
Start times: Half-marathon, 7:30 a.m.; 10K, 7:40 a.m.: Walk, Run or Roll, 7:45 a.m.
Etc: Race packets must be picked up from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Health Fair & Expo at Moraine Valley Church, 6300 W. 127th St., Palos Heights. ... Free, ample parking is available within a two-block radius ... There will be postrace entertainment, including live music and beer.
Prizes: Male and female top-five finishers get from $250 to $500; Master 40-and-over male and female top-three finishers get from $50 to $250; Veterans 50-and-over male and female top-three finishers get from $37.50 to $125.
Updated: June 3, 2014 6:30AM
Allison Gunnink lost two uncles to cancer. Others in her family have been diagnosed with the disease but were able to overcome it.
Gunnink, a board-certified music therapist and avid runner, wants to use Sunday’s First Midwest Bank Half Marathon in Palos Heights as an opportunity to help raise money for the American Cancer Society.
“It’s a cause that’s near and dear to my heart,” the Plainfield resident said.
Up to 1,800 runners are expected to register for the half-marathon, which is in its seventh year.
Drivers should avoid Route 83 on Sunday. The road will be shut down from 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. between Harlem and Archer avenues. Residents who live between Harlem and 76th avenues still will be able to access the roads.
While not everyone who runs is doing it for a charity, a big part of what the First Midwest Bank race does is raise money for nonprofits, race director Mel Diab said.
“There’s always been some kind of giving back to the community,” said Diab, who owns Running For Kicks in Palos Heights.
Portions of the proceeds are donated to the American Cancer Society for prostate cancer research, to the South West Special Recreation Association and to Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens.
The last five half-marathons have raised more than $150,000 for local charitable organizations.
New this year is a 10K race, Diab said. Everyone who finishes will get a finishers medal.
In the half-mile Walk, Run or Roll for those with special needs, kids can use wheelchairs or, if they are able, go at it on foot.
A health fair and expo will take place Saturday.
After the halfmarathon, runners are invited to a party featuring live music, and food and beer vendors.
About 300 volunteers from area high schools and colleges help manage the event.
Diab said that the half-marathon relies heavily on volunteers and the event sponsor.
“Without a great sponsor like First Midwest Bank, we couldn’t put on a race,” Diab said.
The event also is a great way for runners to get used to long runs.
Samantha Schultz, of Oak Lawn, is running the half-marathon in preparation for the Chicago Marathon. She’s entering the Chicago race, with her husband, to raise money for the The American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation Program.
“I am totally, 100 percent new to running,” Schultz said.