Category Archives: Charity

The 100 Club at The Chicago Auto Show’s First Look for Charity 

The 100 Club of Chicago CEO Joe Ahern talks a little bit about what the organization does for families of first responders, and its relationship with the Chicago Auto Show’s annual First Look for Charity gala.

Since 2011, the 100 Club of Chicago has raised over $600,000!



Benefitting 18 local charities, the First Look for Charity Gala boasts the best of the Chicago Auto Show the night before the 10-day show kicks off.



More than 80% of the ticket price is tax-deductible, plus the proceeds go to all of the following organizations:

100 Club of Chicago
Advocate Health Care
Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago
Catholic Charities of the Chicago Archdiocese
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Joliet
The Cradle Foundation
Franciscan Community Benefit Services
Franciscan Health Olympia Fields/Chicago Heights
Ray Graham Association for People with Disabilities
Susan G. Komen-Chicago
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
March of Dimes
Special Olympics Illinois
Turning Pointe Autism Foundation
Jesse White Tumbling Team


Planning on going to the Chicago Auto Show? Here is everything you need to know dealing with traffic and transportation to get to the Chicago Auto Show.

Source: The 100 Club at The Chicago Auto Show’s First Look for Charity | WLS-AM 890 | WLS-AM


Chicago Marathon 2015 – Coaching with Team In Training

I’ve been getting lots of questions of whether or not I “ran” the marathon. I ran, I walked, I did about 85 high kicks (that is not an exaggeration…possibly an under-estimate). Yes, I was official. I didn’t do 26.2 miles, though. I did 30 miles.

It wasn’t about my time or my race this year. It was about the members who fundraised over $900,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by running with it’s endurance program, Team In Training. Continue reading Chicago Marathon 2015 – Coaching with Team In Training

What is with the purple hair, Jen?

A few months ago, I decided that I needed a change…a big one.

Now, typically I would make drastic changes in my life when something is wrong.

Can’t breathe? Start running.

Chest Pains? Lose weight.

Feel like one of those corporate ghoulish creatures pretending to be humans in the movie They Live? Quit my job.
Continue reading What is with the purple hair, Jen?

After ALS, Ultra-Marathoner Now Runs Only in His Mind – Reblog from Chicago

I want you to meet one of my biggest inspirations, and close friend, Alfredo. His first 100-mile race was the Potawatomi 100 two years ago…the same race I am taking on this weekend.

“I just hope that I can come to Pot[awatomi] to see you finish. I just want to see you finish your first hundred.” – Alfredo

This race is for him.

Jen and Alfredo before Pot

After ALS, Ultra-Marathoner Now Runs Only in His Mind – North Center – Chicago.

alfredo walking with friends

Alfredos friends


Eight Chicago area runners will be running over 160 miles this weekend across the state of Illinois to raise money and awareness for Chicago Run, an organization that promotes running programs in Chicago area schools.

With obesity being the leading risk factor contributing to diabetes, heart disease and stroke, Chicago Run’s mission is to work with elementary schools implementing running programs for children to help prevent the long-term diseases.  In just 25 years from 1980-2004, the percentage of children ages 6-11 who are overweight or obese increased from 6.5% to nearly 19%.

“I think that if a kid sees that there is someone who cares about their well-being, that they’ll respond better and take action.  If no one is there to help, then it’s easier to get lost or lose focus on what’s important,” says Brian Gaines, Team LOL member.

Chicago Run’s main methods of getting the children to embrace activity include preparing for 5Ks, 8Ks and even a virtual marathon where participants accumulate mileage through fitness breaks three to five times per week.

“A lot of today’s disease and health issues can be solved by simply eating right and exercising,” says Team LOL member, Mike Wolkowicz. “Staying active isn’t or shouldn’t be a fad.  You need to keep getting out the door and protect your own heart and lungs.”

Team LOL, which stands for “Land of Lincoln,” will begin a trek from Dubuque, Iowa on Friday, August 17, running straight through for almost three days until they reach Lake Michigan on August 19 at the northern part of Illinois as an effort to educate the public about Chicago Run.

“165 miles looked impossible to me before, now it’s just a number,” said Juan “The Machine” Juarez, a Team LOL member who has finished numerous 50 and 100-mile distance events.

Training and running a marathon has become a very popular way for philanthropic individuals to raise large amounts of awareness and funds for local, regional, national and even international charities.  Team LOL has stated that their name has dual meaning, following the popular text messaging acronym, “Laugh Out Loud,” since they have decided to not do just one, 26.2 mile marathon, but instead just about six full marathons in a row for their cause.

“It might be more of a head game for me after 100 miles. But the cause will help with that,” said Team LOL member, Kathleen Rytman of Chicago Run.

“There is only so much pain in each nerve,” said participant, Kamil Suran, of Crystal Lake.  Kamil is no stranger to this type of endurance event, as in July he completed a 200 mile endurance run in Pennsylvania called the Viaduct Trail Ultra Marathon.  Just as expected with the Run Across Illinois, Kamil raced for three whole days, finishing the event in 75 hours and 55 minutes.  Not only did Kamil finish, but he won this event.

Kamil was not the only runner in this group that traveled to the Viaduct Trail Marathon in July.  Cohort, Chuck Schultz also took on this massive trek in the 90-plus degree weather.  When asked about what Schultz expects to be his largest obstacle, he said, “Sleep will be the biggest challenge. There is a small chance I could go without sleep but it’s not likely. So I need to accept that and plan for sleeping.”

“I think programs like Chicago Run have such a simple but important mission to build health, self-worth, self-esteem, accomplishment and goal-setting skills.  It’s a great program,” says Scott Smoron, another member of Team LOL.

These runners will not be going at it alone, as there will be upwards of 20-25 supporters helping out as crew members and pacers.  The crew members will provide vehicles along the way filled with food, hydration, extra clothing and other items.  Pacers will be running various lengths alongside the runners for inspiration and support.  The runners will be running alongside country roads for the entire distance, and will have ample reflective gear, including headlamps, between the hours of 7pm and 7am.

To follow updates on the group’s progress, you can visit, or follow them on Twitter at the handle @RunAcrossIL.  These sites also provide the link to make pledge a donation to Chicago Run on behalf of the runner’s amazing feat.  To learn more about the mission of Chicago Run, visit

When asked about the goal of running over 160 miles, team member Tony Cesario said, “the only obstacles you have, are the ones you place in front of yourself.”


The Dog-Gone Truth – Volume 3: Hold On Little Doggy, You’re Not Getting In Here Unless I See Some ID

There are many ways to keep your best friend safe and happy.  Not only limited to your pet’s well-being, there’s a sure way to keep yourself also safe and happy as a pet owner, especially if you live in the city of Chicago.  Many people don’t even realize that to own a dog in Chicago, you are supposed to have a license for him or her.  Yes, just like we have a driver’s license, state ID or passport, you’re pup requires one also.  Oftentimes we hear of police doing “spot checks” where they may stop you just to make sure that you are driving with the proper identification.  Or what if you try to go into an establishment that is 21 and over?  You will for sure be asked for a form of identification regardless how mature or young that you look.

The same thing can happen while walking your dog, bringing them to a city dog park, or hanging out at the beach.  Just like you can get a ticket for driving without a valid driver’s license, or maybe not get into a bar if you forget that ID, your furry friend can be ticketed for not having his license or not allowed onto the dog beach if she doesn’t have her ID on her collar.

Here is what the sticker looks like that you will put on the back of your pet’s rabies tag.

It’s fairly simple actually to get a license for your dog, and it an unbelievable $5 per year to make sure that your pet is a welcomed citizen of the city of Chicago.  That is, if you make sure to follow that all-important piece of advice to get your dog spayed or neutered.  If he or she is not fixed, then the cost per year is a whopping $50.  If you visit the Dog Registration page on the city’s website, it’s a simple process where all you have to do is provide your own and your best friend’s information.  It is also important to know that you need a current rabies verification tag and number.

Rabies vaccinations come in two types; the one-year shot and a three-year rabies shot.  Your personal veternarian is able to take care of this, though if you need financial assitance, you can contact PAWS Chicago, where they have a clinic that will give low-cost vaccinations.  Remember, proper pet care comes in all sorts of shapes and forms, so be a responsible pet owner, and follow the rules.  They aren’t too hard at all!

Chicago Run: Empowering Our Youth, One Mile at a Time

A runner friend of mine, Jeffrey, decided to go out and run around a quarter-mile track this past weekend for quite a few hours.  He ended up running a total of 32 miles, though during his jaunt, he was approached by some energetic and ambitious little-leaguers.  Check out what happened, but more importantly, how it relates to the mission of the youth health and wellness program, Chicago Run.  -Jen

Chicago Run: Empowering Our Youth, One Mile at a Time.

What Should I Eat? Understanding How to Eat During the First Couple of Months of Marathon Training

As a mentor with Team in Training, and a former local running advocate with a popular multisport retailer, I have gotten this question MANY times. There are so many right and wrong answers to this, so I want to make sure that I address a new runner’s concerns. You may have heard the phrase “eating like a marathoner,” but if you are following the basic training plan, then increasing your caloric intake is not recommended.

Longer distances call for higher calories, but make sure you are using the RIGHT calories.

A person who weighs 150-170 pounds typically will burn about 110 calories per mile (unfortunately it is roughly the same whether you are doing an 8 minute or 12 minute per mile pace, so increasing your speed really doesn’t make a difference….sorry). If you are averaging 15 miles per week, then you are really only burning about 1650 calories from your activity. Therefore, eating a huge pasta dinner, or a burger and a beer from the local pub each night will just cause a weight gain. Actually, a grilled chicken burrito (based on the Qdoba website) has over 1200 calories. And, that is just in one meal!

The shocking nutrition information for a Qdoba Burrito. (But they are SO TASTY!)

The key is to add small snacks during the day if need be. I personally like Fiber One or Luna Bars for something to tie me over. Bananas, blueberries, or any type of fruit or vegetable that you enjoy is also a great snack! Just hold off on the caramel to supplement your apples, or peanut butter or ranch dressing on your celery! I currently am following the Weight Watchers program, so I am exposed on a daily basis to the nutritional information for just about everything (it can be a curse sometimes). I do just want to add the disclaimer, that at my weight, I am NOT trying to lose an immense amount of weight. I use this program to get lean for my racing season, and other health reasons. The other health reasons being that I was just informed by a blood test that I am low in certain vitamins and my blood sugar is extremely low for an athlete. The only reason why I would suggest this program for anybody who is, or intends to become an endurance athlete, is to merely monitor his or her intake of the proper nutrients. I, personally, am not a fan of multi-vitamins. I enjoy knowing that I am getting those proper nutrients from a regular diet. And by diet, not necessarily weight loss, but the entirety of what one eats.

Here is a great article from called “What’s Your Ideal Weight?” It actually highlights how much time can be taken off runs of distances of 5Ks to marathons by just making sure you don’t overeat in the beginning of training.

The point that I am trying to convey is that if you are beginning an endurance, or any type of running program, with the main goal to shed some extra pounds, do not feel that by running two miles entitles you to eat a Dairy Queen brownie sundae (lord, they are so good, but just DON’T DO IT). Stick to the basics. Here are some great meals and snacks to still indulge in until you get up to about 25 miles per week:

Jell-O with Cool Whip–a VERY low-calorie quick fix for that sweet tooth. Try using the low-fat or fat-free Cool-Whip. For only slightly more calories, you can have Jell-O sugar-free pudding. At 60 calories per cup for the store packaged version (or make it from scratch on your own), you have the perfect fix to help the craving pass.

Pick up any Weight Watchers products, even if you aren’t following the program! They are very low in calories, although that company some how found a way to make things taste GOOD!

Sorry Sugar, I’m using Splenda!–Did you know that Splenda has absolutely NOTHING calorie-wise to it? Don’t worry about the headaches, continued cravings or anything else that our sugar addictions leave us with. If you cook at home (even Grandma’s Chocolate Chip cookie recipe), use Splenda. It cuts everything down in calories by leaps and bounds.

Save this type of meal until AFTER a long run!

Buying ground beef? Check out Trader Joe’s. They sell 96%/4% fat-free ground beef as opposed to Jewel, Dominick’s and the other major supermarkets. Anything you wish to make will be so much less in calories. Are the buns too much for you? How about trying a whole wheat tortilla wrap around a home-made vertical-rolled burger? I’ve done it many times. It has fewer calories, even with adding ketchup, BBQ sauce, or mustard (again, no ranch dressing).

When all is said and done, the best options for keeping your body going without putting on extra pounds is to incorporate large amounts of fruits and vegetables into your diet.  These super foods will keep you alert and hydrated, while giving your body the proper nutrients without adding anything that will make you sluggish.

Happy Trails!