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.

“I love the vibe of Race Day:” Team Red Cross runner laces up for Chicago Marathon

rco_blog_img_raceThe Chicago Marathon day is my favorite day of the year. There’s truly nothing like it! This year’s marathon will be my 8th overall and my 6th Chicago Marathon. I keep coming back year after year because I absolutely love the vibe of race day and the energy of the crowds on the course.

I run for Team Red Cross because I believe in the work they do around the world. Whenever there is a need for help, the Red Cross is always among the first to respond.  It’s great to see that the money I raise is going to help those who need it the most.

29902440510_6ffc89e017_oAt the end of July, I was struck with a stress fracture in my shin. It seemed to come out of nowhere but it left me unable to do high impact exercises for almost two months. In the meantime, I have been trying to keep up my fitness by going to spinning classes and strength training. Thankfully, my leg is better now. Just in time for race day!

The night before the race, I like to relax at home with a viewing of “Run, Fatboy, Run.”  Definitely a running classic!  On race day, I have a couple of friends who live along the course so I always look forward to seeing them when I pass by. The faces I most look forward to seeing, though, are those of my boyfriend and his son, who always come to see me around mile 24. Seeing their smiling faces is just the boost I need to make it to the finish.

Andrea Hamilos of Chicago is one of 80 members of  Team Red Cross athletes running the 2016 Bank of Chicago Marathon. Want to run for a good cause? Those who missed the registration for this year’s marathon can sign up for next year to run with Team Red Cross. Registration opens Oct. 10, 2016 and includes a guaranteed entry to the 2017 race. Email stephanie.patton@redcross.org for more information.

Why I Run for Team Red Cross

Why I Run for Team Red Cross

I remember the exact spot I was standing when I checked my phone on July 20, 2015 and read the text: “headed to Lake Forest ER, please pray.” Right then I knew something big was happening; change was coming, but I had no idea what an impact it was going to have on my life. I drove right from work to the hospital.

Stage 4 cancer. You could physically feel the ache in the room. My grandma, the center of our entire family was diagnosed with the unimaginable. For 17 weeks we watched the brave woman we knew battle this unrelenting disease. Throughout the entire process, I was in denial—this wasn’t happening, she would beat this, it’s not that bad. But it was bad. I watched the strongest person I know, become physically, emotionally, and spiritually weak.

My cousin Nolan, a US Marine, left three days before we found out about the diagnosis for Okinawa, Japan, where he would be stationed for the next two years. Every day, my grandma would open her iPad and say to the picture of my cousin on the screen saying, “Hi Nollie, I hope I can see you just one more time.” Her one, final wish was to have all her family together just one more time.

The American Red Cross made that wish a reality. My aunt and uncle contacted the Red Cross on Friday, Nov. 20, to explain the situation hoping to set up a time within the next several weeks to get Nolan back to the United States. Instantly they got a response that Nolan would be on a plane the next Monday and would land in Chicago on Tuesday.

On Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, we rushed my grandma to the ER once again where she would leave hours later; sent home on Hospice for her final days. Nolan landed the next day reuniting with my grandma and my entire family. That day was the best she looked in months.

Then she began slipping away from us, beginning her journey to heaven. Those days are the best and worst days of my life. The best, in the sense that I have never felt such a strong, united bond with my family. We laughed together, we shared stories of the past, we cried, we sang, and we prayed. On Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015, at 6:50 a.m. my grandma left her weak, diseased body and entered the Kingdom of God.

There are no words I could ever say to express the gratitude I have for the American Red Cross. They gave my family a priceless gift that truly is irreplaceable.

This year I have the honor and privilege to run the 2016 Chicago Marathon with my mother and best friend. I am excited and somewhat nervous to push my body both physically and mentally beyond anything I have ever done.

I am not doing this for myself, but in hopes to give back to an organization that helped me and my family in our darkest time.

Runners who are interested in participating in the 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon can join Team Red Cross, the official race team of the American Red Cross. General registration for the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 9 is closed, but limited spots are still available through charity partners like the Red Cross until Sept. 15. Team members pledge to raise at least $1,500 to support Red Cross humanitarian programs and services. Register to join Team Red Cross online or email stephanie.patton@redcross.org. For more information about Team Red Cross click here.

Janelle Johnson, 25, of Lake Bluff, Illinois is a first-time marathon runner and member of Team Red Cross running in the 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 9.

For Team Red Cross Runners: the Choice Goes Beyond the Finish Line

(Chicago, IL) – When a Chicago Marathon runner signs up to run with Team Red Cross, they pledge not only their determination and skill, but also the promise of raising $1,500 to support the lifesaving mission of the American Red Cross.

Runner John Alegnani from Louisville, Kentucky is no stranger to this promise: this is his third Chicago Marathon running for 21915091680_a1e2472aa7_zTeam Red Cross. “When people decide to run (the Chicago Marathon), they often have a personal connection to the team they choose. I chose the Red Cross because they help so many people in need across the globe, that’s what keeps me coming back.”

131 runners crossed the finish line this year for Team Red Cross: the biggest number yet since the team was formed in 2007. Combined, over $200,000 was raised by our runners to benefit American Red Cross programs and services throughout Chicago and Northern Illinois: such as veteran assistance, reconnecting families, and home fire preparedness.

For first time C22077008226_e82d5d442d_zhicago Marathon runners Tim Hotchandani of New York City and Paola Buitrago of Colombia, South America, the choice to run with Team Red Cross was personal.

Tim, a healthcare investment banker was the  first Team Red Cross runner to cross the finish line  at 2:55.30. “I wanted to match the professional with the personal,” for his first Chicago Marathon, he said.

Paola has followed the work of the Red Cross since moving to the Chicagoland area a year and a half ago, “Many of my friends in Colombia are volunteers with the International Federation of the Red Cross . When I moved to Chicago, many of my friends here are volunteers with the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois. So it was amazing to pick an organiza21482284723_281fef22f7_ztion to run with that everyone I know is already familiar with.”

An official charity partner with the 2015 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, the Red Cross is proud to bring together runners of all ages and abilities since 2007 in support of the  its mission. If you or someone you know is interested in running the Chicago Marathon in 2016 with Team Red Cross, visit RedCross.org/chicagomarathon for details and sign up information.

For more photos of Team Red Cross at the Chicago Marathon:


Story by Alexandra Sobczak, Public Affairs Volunteer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois 

Photos by Danny Diaz, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois Volunteer  

From Albania to Chicago: Why Senada Greca Chose Team Red Cross

Senada after finishing The 2013 New York Marathon.

Senada after finishing The 2013 New York Marathon.

Although this is Senada Greca’s first time running for Team Red Cross, she has a long history with the organization.

Senada is originally from Albania where she lived during the Kosovo War in 1998-1999. She experienced firsthand the humanitarian mission of the Red Cross when thousands of Kosovan refugees came to her country.

Senada, who was in high school at the time, remembers volunteering at the Red Cross refugee shelters after school. She would visit with the refugees, many of whom were hospitalized, and helped provide food and clothing. Her family and some of her neighbors even welcomed refugees to stay with them in their homes. She and her family moved back to the United States in 1999 where she has remained since.

Senada is a serious marathoner and has competed in two other marathons in New York and New Hampshire. This is her first time running in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the first time visiting the city. Her training involves waking up at 5 a.m. and running 5-6 days a week to accomplish her goal of a 3:30 time or less in order to qualify for the Boston marathon.

But another important goal for Senada is raising money for an organization that has made such an impact in her life. “The Red Cross has influence in so many parts of the world. You can be assured that no matter how small the country or political influence, they will make an impact,” she said.

Senada has witnessed aspects of the Red Cross mission that many of us only hear about and her experiences have substantiated that this is a mission worth running for. Join Senada in running for Team Red Cross by registering here: http://rdcrss.org/18BPi6K.

Written by Kamryn McPike

Admiration, Gratitude and Inspiration Propels Team Red Cross to the Finish Line

Runners join Team Red Cross for many reasons, but they all share admiration, gratitude and inspiration for the American Red Cross which propels them across the finish line.

Autumn has breezed in and so has the Bank of America Chicago Marathon Oct. 13. Runners from around the world have been hard at work training to be part of American Red Cross of Greater Chicago’s Team Red Cross, a charity marathon team that offers participants a coveted spot in the Chicago Marathon if they raise funds for the Red Cross mission.

Runners share in common similar reasons for running on behalf of the Red Cross. Stephanie Reid, has admiration for the work and help that the Red Cross provides other people. Others, like Ashley Sanislo Casey and Jeff Laube, have sentiments of gratitude for the Red Cross. They all felt inspired to join the team.

Reid noted that there are many charities that a runner could choose from. So why choose the Red Cross?

Reid has run many races before, but she never ran for a charity until this year. “After the Boston marathon bombing, I noticed that the Red Cross had set up info hotlines for people to find runners that they knew. Red Cross was there for the running community and I wanted to do something to give back to Red Cross.”

Casey also has noticed the efforts of the Red Cross, “Sadly, a lot goes wrong in our world from flooding to horrible atrocities brought on by fellow humans, but I feel better knowing that the Red Cross is there as some of the first people on the scene, helping people get water, food, shelter and reconnect with loved ones.”

For Casey, it was important to run for an organization that had far-reaching impact locally and globally. “The Red Cross is an organization that touches so many lives from natural disasters to terrorist attacks to aiding our military and their families,” she said.

Laube can attest for this personally.

Having been in the military, the Red Cross reached out to him while he was stationed in Hawaii in the 1990s when his father suffered a heart attack. The Red Cross also paid for his plane ticket home.

Now a Park Ridge fireman and his third time running at the Chicago Marathon, Laube is raising funds through his registration that will benefit the Red Cross. One of the reasons he runs the marathon is “to meet new people and hear the obstacles they overcome.”

Written by: Diana Brokop