“All great things have to come to an end at some point. And that’s the spirit of Jeanine. Let’s go out on top, and let’s make it a good ending. And it’s going to be hard. It’s not an easy thing to walk away from, but it’s time,” said Kathy Brown, sister of Jeanine Nicarico.
This year marks the final G.L.O.W. 5K in honor of Jeanine Nicarico. Jeanine was just ten years old when, in 1983, she was abducted from her Naperville home and murdered. The loss was felt by her family, friends, and the Naperville community. Yet, the tragic event was the catalyst for what would become an annual tradition in Naperville.
How the G.L.O.W. 5k began
“So the G.L.O.W. 5K started over 20 years ago. It actually started because there was a teacher and a principal who had been beneficiaries of one of the grants that we had awarded them. They came to us and said, “We want to give back to you all for giving us the chance to, you know, enrich these kids’ lives with the extra money that you awarded us to do this program, so we would like to start a run,” said Brown.
The celebration of Jeanine’s memory, though, is more than race: it’s a mission to help more children like Jeanine.
The Jeanine Nicarico Memorial Literacy Fund helps kids like Jeanine
“The Jeanine Nicarico Memorial Fund for Literacy was developed because we wanted to find a way to give back to the community as a family and to remember Jeanine in a positive light,” said Brown.
“In school, she was in fifth grade, and she had struggled a little bit with reading, and she had some phenomenal teachers that really took her to the next level…And so at that point, we said, what about if we put a fund together, raise money, and like this fund would go to teachers so they can continue to grow in their practice,” said Chris Roy, also Jeanine Nicarico’s sister.
The Naperville Community comes together to support
Kathy, Chris, and the rest of the Nicarico family have done everything possible to remember Jeanine, with much help from the community.
“It’s our way as a family to say thank you. I mean, we couldn’t have ever made it through those years without our friends, our family. The community of Naperville just wrapped their arms around us and is always done that. Like we said, it’s our way of saying thank you. And that’s what the fund is about. The glow run is the celebration,” said Roy.
It may be the G.L.O.W. 5K’s last lap, but the memories made over the years will last beyond the finish line.
Remembering Jeanine Nicarico in a positive light
“It’ll be bittersweet. You know, we’ve had the way we look at it. We’ve had a great run, no pun intended, but it’s been a really great fundraiser. This town has stood behind us. We’ve always had success. The only thing that ever stopped us was COVID. But every event, rain or shine, came out perfect,” said Brown.
The sisters think Jeanine would be proud, and thankful, that her legacy involved helping other kids.
“And that’s what she was always about, even in school. She was that kid that was always there to be somebody’s friend. Help them through a rough day. She would be so thankful that we’re taking her memory and doing something good with it and helping kids, period,” said Roy.
The G.L.O.W. 5K will take place on Saturday, May 20, at Fifth Avenue Station, with entertainment beginning at 6:30 pm and the racing starting at 8:15 pm. For more information, visit the event website.
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