Spectators clanged cowbells and waved inspirational signs along the streets of Chicago to cheer on not only loved ones, but also charity team members, who faced the 2019 Chicago Marathon Sunday.
Along the side of State Street, marathon spectator and PAWS Chicago volunteer, Jessica Boi waved a bright, neon sign as runners representing the PAWS Chicago charity team sped by.
“This is my second year at the Chicago Marathon,” Boi said, though she has volunteered at PAWS for six years. “Though I wasn’t expecting it to be this cold, it’s still exciting and inspiring to watch the supporters and runners pass by.”
PAWS Chicago, a non-profit animal shelter organization, relies on donors and fundraisers such as the Chicago Marathon to fulfill their mission of saving the lives of homeless pets. TEAM PAWS competed at the marathon Sunday with 420 runners from 30 states and nine countries.
“We are the fifth largest charity team in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon,” TEAM PAWS Athletic Events Manager, Carrie Cihasky said.”We are the only local charity in the top five with 420 runners this past year, including self-secured entries, and are the largest Animal Welfare Charity in the marathon.”
Every dollar raised by TEAM PAWS goes toward saving the their mission, Cihasky said. Along with running for a great cause, TEAM PAWS members are treated with a “PAWSta” Dinner, activities at the PAWS Chicago booth at the marathon expo and a race day party with a free massage.
“When runners sign up with us, we sign them up with one of our guaranteed entries into the Chicago Marathon, give them their own fundraising page, pair them with a mentor, and start helping them in their fundraising and training.” Cihasky said. “Throughout the year we have social events and races where runners can meet other runners on our team and develop a community of athletes dedicated to animal welfare.”
The lasting effects of the race aren’t limited to charity; many individual runners also set personal records this marathon.
Well-achieved marathoner and native Chicagoan Kevin Havel ran the Chicago Marathon for the eighth time Sunday, with a finishing time of two hours, 15 minutes and 37 seconds. The winner of the Chicago Marathon, Lawrence Cherono, finished at two hours, five minutes and 45 seconds.
“You never know what to expect for the outcome of a race,” Havel said. “But the weather wasn’t terrible today, so that definitely helped.”
Havel’s mom waited for him at the far end of the finish line in Grant Park and embraced him after he crossed.
“I knew he had done it when I saw him pump his fist,” Havel’s mother said proudly. “He was laughing and smiling as he finished the race.”