Feeding Bloomington-Normal: American Red Cross of Illinois teams up with United Way of McLean County to feed thousands during coronavirus pandemic

The American Red Cross has been a longtime partner of United Way, dating back to the 1950s. So, when they saw an opportunity to jump in and help feed thousands in the Bloomington-Normal community during the coronavirus pandemic, they didn’t waste a minute. The American Red Cross of Illinois is assisting, logistically, to feed folks, offering their vehicles and volunteers to help pick up food from stores, pack food in warehouses and deliver it where it needs to go.  

With the help of the American Red Cross of Illinois, United Way of McLean County (UWMC) has established a successful COVID-19 Community Care Fund, addressing urgent needs. Food access and food insecurity were two of the biggest issues. Since March 30th, UWMC and existing initiatives in the community have provided meals to school district food programs, including five school districts, purchasing over 900 pounds of fresh produce from local farms for LeRoy, Unit 5, Lexington, Olympia and Ridgeway. They’ve also purchased bread and chicken broth from Meijer and Kroger to help feed over 500 families a week.

Lynda Hruska is the Executive Director of the American Red Cross serving Central Illinois. She says this partnership has been impactful to the volunteers.

“It has really been a way for our volunteers to be a part of this incredible work that this team is doing. Often times in a disaster, we’re in the lead role. We’re sheltering, feeding, and in this one, we are using volunteers to plug in to a community-wide project. It’s been very heartwarming to be part of this huge network seeing different people playing different roles and truly making a difference.”

Aside from school food programs, the Red Cross and United Way are partnering with existing initiatives to purchase boxed meals from local restaurants to support their employees and distribute those meals through local non-profits. As of May 8th, they’ve served more than 44,575 meals!

And of course, nothing goes to waste. The Red Cross volunteers go back to the warehouse and pick up any unused perishables and deliver them to Home Sweet Home Mission so they can be utilized without waste.

But UWMC and the Red Cross agree the effort doesn’t stop here. This team has continued to look at not only the initial food insecurity issue, but other human issues that are facing the community as a result of this pandemic. With help from partners in the community, they’ve provided and distributed over 500 food boxes, locally, and more than 300 face masks to distribution volunteers, to keep them safe and protected during this project.

The need continues. The Red Cross is here, and will be here, to help our communities.

Written by Hannah Allton, Regional Communications Manager

Through the Heart of a Red Crosser – Blue Sky Efforts – February 2020

The Regional Sheltering Team recently conducted five classes with External Partners in Shelter Training. 

Three local organizations – Benedictine University, Hoffman Estates Emergency Management and the DuPage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management – reached out to the Red Cross and requested Shelter Training for their people.

Five Red Cross Instructors over the last month – traveled out to their locations and instructed their people in both Shelter Fundamentals and Shelter Operations Simulation.  A total of 120 people were trained in these classes. 

Steve Wise and Lauren Zimmerman (RC Sheltering Instructors) – and Sarah Marcucci / Emergency Management Coordinator for the Village of Hoffman Estates

Such efforts help the Red Cross extend both our Partnerships and our reach in times of need.  If there ever was a local large-scale disaster – there easily could be the need to stand up numerous Shelters across the Greater Chicago and Northern IL Region.      

A big shout out goes to those Red Crossers who helped out with this instruction – Terri Cunningham, Lauren Zimmerman, Jackie Speciale, and Danny Portman.  Thru their efforts – we now have External Partners to call on for Sheltering Assistance.

If you would like to become a Red Cross volunteer, please go to redcross.org/volunteer to join us.

This picture was taken at the Shelter Training held at the Hoffman Estates Police Department last Saturday, February 1st. A total of 37 people attended this training.

Written By: Steve Wise, Disaster Volunteer

Marseilles Fire Department Celebrates 3,000th Smoke Alarm Installed with Red Cross Partnership

Representatives from the American Red Cross of the Illinois River Valley and the Marseilles Fire Department commemorate the installation of the 3,000 free smoke alarm through the Home Fire Campaign

Nestled along the Illinois River in LaSalle County, Illinois, Marseilles still has the many familiar elements of that small town charm often seen in rural parts of the state. Now this community of about 5,000 is well on their way to being better protected against home fire injuries and fatalities as the fire department confirms 3,000 smoke alarms recently installed in local homes!

Having a working smoke alarm in your home cuts your chances of dying in a home fire by 50% and a recent study by the American Red Cross showed that most people believe they would have 5 minutes or more to escape their home in the event of a fire when really, it is only 2 minutes or less. Having a working smoke alarm can help protect you and your family in the event of a fire.

Each year, the Red Cross responds to an average of more than 60,000 disasters, the vast majority of which are home fires. So we set a goal to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries in the US by 25%. Since it began in 2014, the Home Fire Campaign has saved 699 lives and 2,055,341 smoke alarms have been installed– 3,000 of them in Marseilles.

The partnership began nearly two years ago through the initiative of Red Cross volunteer Kent Terry and the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign. When Marseilles Fire Department Chief Michael “Mick” Garrison was approached about partnering with the Red Cross for home fire safety, a new endeavor was launched.

Together, the Marseilles Fire Department and Red Cross were able to reach this installation milestone providing the free smoke alarms to local residents as well as fire safety education. During an installation, the fire department also performs a free home safety inspection.

The reach of the Home Fire Campaign continues to grow further, and Chief Garrison has also installed free Red Cross smoke alarms all throughout LaSalle County by partnering with neighboring fire departments and continuing to promote home fire safety.

“This is the best program ever for Home Safety. We get the opportunity to provide direct communication and protection to our residents,” Chief Garrison said.

The American Red Cross is thankful for this great partnership with the Marseilles Fire Department and the continued dedication to making our communities more resilient and safer through smoke alarm installation.

To get involved with the Home Fire Campaign or to volunteer with the Red Cross, join us as we Sound the Alarm this spring to install even more free smoke alarms!

Looking to volunteer with the Red Cross? Find an upcoming installation event here: https://www.redcross.org/sound-the-alarm.html

Do you need a working smoke alarm? Sign up for a free installation appointment at: www.getasmokealarm.org

Diane Olejnik: 4 Decades with the Red Cross and an Unexpected Connection

In 1980, a young Diane Olejnik started her new job at the American Red Cross as an executive assistant. She saw thousands of volunteers and co-workers and a handful of executive directors and CEO’s, and she was there through it all for nearly 4 decades. At the end of 2019 she will retire after a lengthy and wonderful career at the Red Cross in a job she says she was proud to have.

“I come from a long family of loyalty; you die with the company,”- Diane

If there is a quality to describe Diane, it is loyal. Even as a child, her family impressed upon her the importance of loyalty and her longevity at both her jobs have proved she took that lesson to heart. She attended Moser Secretarial School, and Diane started her first job at the American Association of Hospital Accountants. It was February. After nearly 14 years there, that organization moved to Oak Brook and she found herself looking for her next job.

Through connections, she heard of openings at the Red Cross for an executive assistant and an accounting position. Diane interviewed and was able to start a new job in 1980 at the Red Cross as an executive assistant in Blood Services, and her friend Jan Sabaduquia came to work at the Red Cross as well. Once again, in the month of February- which is also Diane’s birthday month.

Upon receiving her new job with the Red Cross, Diane says her mother told her a story about how it was that with the help of the Red Cross in Germany after the war they located relatives that were living in America.  The first time they located someone with the same name in Ohio .. but through a letter exchange it was not a relative.  On a second attempt through the Red Cross, they located someone with the same name living in New Jersey and through a letter exchange.. it was the relative – an Aunt (sister of her mom’s father) who was willing to sponsor the family to come to America and make their future brighter after WWII Europe.

Diane pictured with current CEO Celena Roldan and past CEOs Fran Edwardson and Bill Braden

“I liked everything about it,” she said of her new role in Blood Services, though she says she knew “nothing about it.” Always a “worker bee” she was determined to learn as much as she could about the exciting things happening at the Red Cross. She loved interacting with the interesting people who filled the board, she loved seeing the volunteers, and she especially loved the fundraising events put on throughout the city including several black-tie fundraisers at the Drake Hotel.

“It was fancy, it was schmancy- it was everything you could have dreamed of!” she said. A stand-out favorite of hers was the “Chicago At Its Best” fundraiser; an event held for 10 years featuring jazz music, local celebrities and dignitaries like Mayor Jane Byrne and Walter Payton to name a few.

“I was in charge of watching the mink coats,” she said with a laugh.

The Red Cross is accustomed to changes and over the years Diane saw multiple down-sizings, office relocations, chapter reorganizations, closings, a steady stream of volunteers coming in and leadership changes. It was with the Red Cross she got to see parts of the country she may never would have seen otherwise. Trips to Colorado, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City and Richmond, Virginia were memorable.

Though she says knew nothing about the Red Cross when she started, soon Diane was learning more and more about the organization and loving all of it. “There was always a focus on meeting the needs of Chicago and we were always cognizant of diversity.”

Diane looked at life in “buckets.” One for your career, one for your family and so- forth. And in her case, this “Red Cross bucket” was being filled from many sources.

“I was really ‘rah-rah’ Red Cross,” she said punching the air. Diane was quickly homing in on her specific skills in the work place, and noticed she loved writing. She even submitted a script to “Bonanza” once upon a time. She was doing more writing and soon also doing board orientations and found herself speaking most compassionately about disaster response. “I was really good,” she said.

Diane with a bobble-head version of herself

A Polish-speaker, Diane also found herself occasionally helping the Services to the Armed Forces volunteers with a Restoring Family Links case, and even accompanied some Disaster volunteers visiting a Polish-speaking family who had just experienced a fire to help with translating. “I understood from the beginning these are wonderful volunteers, they are giving their professional time and money to us. I was just so happy to see them!”

Diane was loyal. She rarely took a day off and faithfully filled her desk’s multiple candy bowls, ensuring a regular stream of sugar-hunting co-workers passing through. She worked closely with everyone who held the CEO position of recent years from Margaret James, Bob Gilbert, Elizabeth Curtis, Bill Braden and more, all the way to Fran Edwardson and current CEO Celena Roldan. She says she dreamt of being the Della Street to Perry Mason and get to know her bosses well enough to anticipate what they were thinking or needing before they could say it.

Now Diane plans on resting and giving her home some TLC, but she says she’ll remain loyal to the Red Cross, “I have always said this, Red Cross is a great steward of your money.”

Looking back on her career, Diane said she hopes we don’t lose the personal touch of face-to-face communication as technology continues to advance. She says she feels like now is a good time for her to leave, though it will be the “end of an era.” She plans on picking up her other interests and hobbies and getting more involved in her church and choir, and maybe even learning another language. Possibly Spanish. And though she is closing the book on this chapter of her life, and says her buckets are filled and she is leaving nothing behind.

“I cannot give anything more…yes, I gave all that I had.”

Thank you for your 4 decades of service, and your loyalty to the Red Cross. We will miss you Diane!

Diane’s last day in the office will be December 31, 2019. Send your well wishes her way at Diane.Olejnik@redcross.org before then!

Written by Communications Manager, Holly Baker

In Memoriam: Yvette Alexander-Maxie

The staff and volunteers of the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois are deeply saddened to share the loss of a dear friend and valued colleague. Yvette Alexander-Maxie, Regional External Relations Manager for Chicago & Northern Illinois, passed away this morning following a prolonged illness. She leaves behind an incredible legacy. Yvette joined the American Red Cross as a volunteer in 1992 and as an employee in 1999. For the next 20 years, she provided leadership throughout the Red Cross which included roles in Disaster Cycle Services, International Services, Services to Armed Forces, Youth Services, and Volunteer Services. 

Since 2013, Yvette directed our work with external partners and led many aspects of disaster relief including numerous large-scale operations and multi-agency resource centers. Yvette was widely recognized for her leadership in mobilizing partners to support our clients and was also the current Chair of the Northeast Illinois COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disaster). Yvette was proud to be a member of the Red Cross family. Her work in the disaster community was much more than a job to her. It was where her purpose and passion collided into action. Today is a sad day, not just for the Red Cross, but for the entire disaster community. Yvette was an icon who advocated passionately for our clients and volunteers. In the emergency management and non-profit community, Yvette was a respected leader due to her expertise, strength of character, and ability to unify others. Numerous leaders followed her because they believed in her. Her integrity, vision, and compassion were extraordinary and inspire all who knew her.

To know Yvette was an honor, and to work with her a privilege. Her presence would light up a room. Her glow, smile and charisma were special. When she spoke, people listened. Yvette had a wonderfully mischievous sense of humor that brought levity to even the most challenging moments. Yvette was also incredibly generous with her time and philanthropy. In addition to her work with the Red Cross, she was a frequent donor to Save the Children, UNICEF, the United Way, ASPCA, the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, veteran groups, and many local charities. Take a step inside her home and you would be surrounded by pictures of children she sponsored and letters from organizations thanking her for her generosity.

Yvette’s unwillingness to compromise our standards and refusal to be mediocre, drove us to excellence. Even in her final months, she gave her all to the mission of the Red Cross. Yvette’s time with us was cut tragically short.  Yet, Yvette would want all to carry on the noble mission that she dedicated her life to. 

Yvette was a mentor, an advocate, and a source of strength to so many of us when we needed it most. Her sharp wit and pearls of wisdom have made us all laugh and gave us many insights for both our professional and personal lives. Yvette’s spirit is intertwined in all we do, and when we install a smoke alarm, respond to a fire, or support a major disaster, we will continue to honor her legacy and she’ll be there – celebrating our work and reminding us to do our very best for our clients, partners, and each other. If we listen closely, we may even hear her say ‘I’m with you on that.’

Thank you for the many years of service. We will miss you, Yvette!

Memorial Service:

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church, 1460 W 78th St, Chicago


Internment immediately following Services

Mt Olive Cemetery 

115th St & Fairfield Ave, Chicago


A. A. Raynor Funeral Home 

318 E 71st St, Chicago, IL 60619

Celebration of Life Information

Date: Thursday, December 12, 2019

Location: Rauner Center; 2200 W Harrison, Chicago

Time: 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Written by Chicago & Northern Illinois Regional Disaster Officer Adam Runkle

Susan Noyes: Helping Hands in Action

Red Cross Board Member Susan Noyes

It was “the coldest night of the year in November in Chicago,” American Red Cross board member, Susan Noyes explained, when she first witnessed the organization in operation. She had “signed up to respond to a fire… [and noticed] how well trained and professional the volunteers were and… how they interacted with the police, and the fire… and the families.” After Susan’s experience that night, she decided she wanted to do more, and so she joined the Tiffany Circle, a group of women leaders who contribute $10,000 or more per year to the Red Cross, as well as pitch in on various Red Cross missions. She also went on to become a Red Cross board member and co-chair of the Red Cross Heroes Breakfast, an annual event that spotlights local heroes for their service to the community. Susan said “the more I learned about the Red Cross, the more I wanted to help.”

Susan gives the credit for her initial interest in the Red Cross to the organization’s former CEO and her close friend, Fran Edwardson. It was Fran who helped Susan discover the details of her connection to the Red Cross. In conversation, Susan mentioned that her husband’s family had some sort of tie to the organization. Fran then went and researched and uncovered that, indeed, there was a connection – and what a connection it was. The ancestors of Susan’s husband, Nick Noyes, were in the inner circle of American Red Cross founder, Clara Barton! In addition, in 1949, the Noyes family donated a home to be used as the Red Cross Chapter House in Danville, New York, the same town in which Clara Barton had founded the first Red Cross chapter in the late 1800s. That Chapter House is used as a Red Cross museum and office today, displaying a collection of antiques donated by the Noyes family, as well as other memorabilia pertaining to the history of the Red Cross.

In addition to her work with the Red Cross, Susan is an avid seeker of ways to have a positive influence on the world in which we live. To that end, she founded Make It Better Media Group, a print and digital publishing company that extends to several platforms, including “Better” “Marin” and “Spaces” magazines. The motto of the media group is “Live, Love, Work, and Play with Greater Purpose” and as Susan explained, it means to live one’s life in a way that promotes “greater social impact.” A quick visit to the “Better” website and you can see the immense range of topics that the company covers. There’s everything from ways to get involved in your community to advice on travel, arts, museums, restaurants, and investing.

The Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois presented the 2019 Media Partner Wesbury Award to BETTER for understanding that content sharing of the Red Cross story and mission are important for their audience to learn about.

During the past year, Susan and BETTER took direct action to tell the catastrophic disaster story and to promote public contributions for Red Cross Hurricane Michael disaster relief. 

A consortium of Chicago-area donors was formed by BETTER to offer a $90,000 matching gift challenge to anyone who donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.  A couple of months later, another BETTER anonymous donor provided a $10,000 challenge grant to support relief operations for the devastating California Wildfires – again promoted through the BETTER digital platform. Both challenge grants were fully utilized, providing much needed support for people who lost everything.

Susan and her BETTER team accepted the 2019 Wesbury Media Award.

When thinking about the work of the Red Cross, Susan said that she has “never seen an organization make a donated dollar go further.” Thanks to great board members like her and our fantastic volunteers, the Red Cross continues to serve and thrive. Thank you, Susan, for all you do for your community and for all your hard work at the Red Cross!

Written by Red Cross Communications Volunteer Vicky Arias

Young Red Cross supporters raise money for disaster relief

After seeing how Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas, Matt and Heather Pleus of Geneva, Illinois, decided to make a donation to the American Red Cross.  Their children, Sam (8) and A.J. (6) overheard the conversation and were inspired to offer their support as well.

“They ran upstairs and got their birthday money,” Heather said, “They wanted to help too.”

The family then discussed other ways the boys might help.  The conversation led to a homegrown campaign to raise more money for the relief fund.

“I am fortunate to work for a company that matches gifts like these,” said Matt, “I told Sam and A.J. how they could double the support.”  Matt is a logistics manager for BP in Chicago.  The employee matching program through BP is a dollar-for-dollar match.

Sam and A.J.’s goal: $2,019 – a symbolic reference to the year the storm battered the Bahamas.

“The boys set out asking everyone they knew for a donation,” Matt continued, “They were relentless.  It was amazing to see.”

“We took time to teach them about the American Red Cross,” said Heather, “We taught them about the Red Cross Mission, Clara Barton, and all of the good work volunteers do in a time of need like the one we saw in the Caribbean.”

On October 28, Sam, A.J., accompanied by their parents, presented a $2,019 donation to Jim Roolf, Board Chair of the Illinois River Valley Chapter, and Brian McDaniel, Executive Director.  The donation included artwork the boys created for the occasion, and a history lesson of the Red Cross by Sam.

“These are the things that inspire me to volunteer for the Red Cross,” said Roolf, “The dedication of these young men to help people they didn’t know is at the heart of our mission.  This is what it means to be a Red Crosser.”

Written by Executive Director of the American Red Cross of the Illinois River Valley Brian McDaniel

Honoring a Humanitarian, Who Taught Us So Much

Long Time Board Member and Philanthropist R. Scott Falk Honored at Community Blood Drive

The Kenilworth Club Assembly Hall is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  Serving as Kenilworth’s community house since its construction in 1906, the powerful connection between this historic gathering place and the local community makes it the perfect place to honor another community connector — R. Scott Falk.  Today, an American Red Cross Memorial Blood drive honoring R. Scott Falk was held there in his honor.  Forty-two units of blood were collected and each unit can help save up to three lives.

Scott Falk at the Chicago Red Cross Heroes Breakfast

Scott was a visionary and leader, and he modeled a long-term legacy of dedication and commitment to the Red Cross. For the past 12 years, he was a guiding force as a member of the Chicago & Northern Illinois Board of Directors. Scott’s passion, insight, drive and dedication often accelerated the Chicago & Northern Illinois Region forward. And Scott never hesitated to roll up his sleeve to donate blood.

Scott’s wife Kimberly and her dear friend Marley Crane hosted the drive in Scott’s honor.  Marley and Scott shared the same birthday, so an October blood drive celebrating his birth was the perfect way to honor him. “The room is decorated with 55 red and white balloons to celebrate Scott and his birthday,” said Marley. “We hosted the drive to allow people in the community to honor the generosity of the Scott we all knew and loved.”

Scott’s wife, Kimberly was moved by the many personal connections from the community donating in support of Scott.  “As I look around the room, I see so many friends that were part of our life together.  Friends from my children’s preschool, connections from our time in California, people from the PTA, neighbors, parents from our children’s sports and Kirkland & Ellis colleagues. All giving in honor of Scott, who gave so generously of himself.” 

Kimberly Falk and Marley Crane

Laura Linger, who knew Scott from both the community and his association with the Red Cross said, “Scott was a leader, an example and an inspiration.  There are not many like him. Kim’s amazing leadership in following Scott’s passion, dedication and generosity inspires all of us.”

Laura Linger with Betsy Ahearne and Francisco Magana of the Red Cross

Celena Roldán, the Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago & Northern Illinois Red Cross, donated blood today in Scott’s honor and said,” Scott had great humility. In my three and half years at the Red Cross he taught me much, about leadership, vision and generosity. I am proud to be here and to donate and honor Scott and Kim today.”

CEO Celena Roldán with Kimberly Falk

Many donors from the community who understand the significance of blood donation were also at the drive.  Carrie Waterston donated for the first time in support of a college friend who recently suffered and amniotic embolism while giving birth and needed 90 units of blood. Carrie said it is her friend’s mission “to give back every one of those 90 units” and Carrie donated today to do her part.

Bridget Sanfilippo’s 28-year-old daughter has suffered from aplastic anemia since she was five years old.  Aplastic anemia develops when damage occurs to bone marrow, impacting the production of new blood cells. Bridget said, “during her life, my daughter has had hundreds of blood transfusions, and my goal is to give back as many of those as I can.”

Bridget Sanfillipo

The American Red Cross collects 40% of the nation’s blood supply and needs to collect 13,000 units a day for the more than 2,500 hospitals we service across the country.  Blood drives like the R. Scott Falk Memorial Drive happen each day and donors are needed.  View more photos from the drive here.

Make your appointment to donate blood at an upcoming drive by going to http://www.redcrossblood.org and give the gift of life in the legacy of Scott Falk.  #givelife

Written by  Joy Squier, Chief Communications & Marketing Officer, Chicago & Northern IL Red Cross

In Loving Memory of Nancy Brooks Edison, Dedicated 60 Year Red Cross Volunteer

In Loving Memory of Nancy Brooks Edison, Dedicated 60 Year Red Cross Volunteer

The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois is deeply saddened to share that longtime volunteer Nancy Brooks Edison has passed away. In Chicago, disasters and fires happen at all hours of the day and night. Thankfully, there are always Red Cross volunteers ready and on-call to respond. One of those volunteers was Nancy, a nationally recognized life-long Red Cross volunteer who answered the phone time after time to help people as a nurse and health services volunteer. Nancy was still on-call as a health services volunteer as recently as last month.

Nancy Brooks Edison

Nancy first heard of the Red Cross on the radio when she was 5 years old. She listened to reports of the work volunteers were doing to help the relief effort during World war II and it made a lifelong impression. She started volunteering for the Red Cross at just 18-years- old as a water safety instructor and later became a nurse and health services volunteer.

Nancy receiving her Hero medal at the 2014 Chicago Red Cross Heroes Breakfast

Nancy continued volunteering for her whole life, always ready to roll up her sleeves and be part of the efforts to help others. She has provided front line support during countless disasters, helping families cope with loss after a home fire, flood or tornado. Her skills and calm demeanor have brought comfort to hundreds of families for six decades and helped put them back on the road to recovery.

Nancy’s volunteering won her many honors through the years, including being recognized as the 2014 Chicago Red Cross Disaster Services Hero. In 2018, ABC-7 Chicago recognized her as making “Chicago Proud” when she achieved 60 years as a Red Cross volunteer.

Over her time as a Red Cross volunteer, Nancy participated in relief efforts for hundreds of disasters, including 12 national responses including deployments to Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. But even when disasters big and small struck locally, Nancy was there to help provide health services including replacing medications, eyeglasses, canes and more.

Her positive and happy demeanor was a joy to the Red Cross and she will be greatly missed. Thank you, Nancy.

Nancy’s memorial will be held on September 28, 2019 at 3PM at Edgebrook Church at 6355 N Spokane Avenue in Chicago, IL.

Nancy Brooks Edison, 01/09/1940 – 09/13/2019

2019 Team Red Cross: Dedication, Passion & Perseverance

Team Red Cross brings together runners of all ages and abilities in support of the American Red Cross mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.

Team Red Cross prepares runners for success in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K, while also providing a rewarding charitable-giving experience. 

We are grateful for all our runners and are so impressed by their dedication and amazing determination to accomplish such an athletic feat! Our runners come from diverse backgrounds and motivations for running the marathon, and we are sharing a few of their amazing stories.

Sisters Running in Honor of Friend Who Dreamt of the Chicago Marathon

Stephanie Presley and Heather Paeplow: Sisters Stephanie and Heather are taking on the 2019 Chicago Marathon in honor of their wonderful friend and running buddy, Cari Bolet who tragically died in a car accident around Thanksgiving in 2018. It had been Cari’s dream to run the Chicago Marathon, so now her friends are fiercely determined to fulfill the dream that she could not by running it in her place instead of cheering for her at the finish line. Stephanie ran a marathon in 2018, and thought she was done with them, but this time it’s different.

“This time, I am not running it for myself. I am running for Cari – I am going to cross the finish line in her honor.  I am running through Team Red Cross to raise funds for a charity that was so crucial in the hurricane recovery in Cari’s beloved home of Puerto Rico and to keep her memory alive and close to us. My sister, Heather Paeplow, is going to run with me to support and help me carry Cari across the finish line.” #CarryCari

Pennsylvania Red Cross Volunteer Takes on Chicago Marathon

Pamela Edler‘s parents have become highly involved in volunteering with the Red Cross in her home state of Pennsylvania and through their activities she has learned much about the organization. Pamela has even volunteered for several events herself including “Sound the Alarm,” where she went into neighborhoods in the Harrisburg area and install smoke alarms for residents for free. She has also volunteered to write and distribute holiday cards to local disabled veterans.

“I truly feel this initiative by the Red Cross saves lives,” Pamela said. “I can’t think of a better organization to represent. “

She has run races and marathons with her husband and enjoys running as a family activity. Her husband is also running the 2019 Chicago Marathon.

Runner eyes Chicago Marathon to Complete All 6 US Major Marathons

Kevin Crealese will be able to say he’s run all 6 of the major marathons in the U.S. after completing the 2019 Chicago Marathon.
“While running a marathon  involves a certain level of pain, it pales in comparson to the suffering endured by those affected by emergencies worldwide.  When these life changing events occur, the Red Cross is there to do what it can to improve conditions for survivors.  A world-class support network like the Red Cross depends on the generousity of donors like you to provide these desperately needed services,” Kevin said.

Running in Honor of Mother who was Red Cross Volunteer

Carter Evans believes running brings people together of all ages and abilities and he’s happy to be able to support the American Red Cross. Carter is running in honor of his parents of which his mother was a Red Cross volunteer when she was in college.

Registration for the 2020 Chicago Marathon will open in November 2019. Learn more about Team Red Cross here.