RIDE FOR AIDS CHICAGO

Jul 12-13 | Path from Chicago to Wisconsin | $100 Registration
Forget about the snow and imagine yourself cycling for a cause! We have been a community partner for 3 years, and a portion of the money raised will directly benefit Chicago House. Ready to ride? Join the Chicago House team today!

March 1987 by Chicago House

Marathon fundraising accurately describes Bill Haskell’s efforts as he clocked 26 miles for Chicago House in last October’s Chicago Marathon. He and his two friends, Jim Carlock and Bob Graziano, organized the Chicago House Marathon Project to raise funds for Chicago House. So far, they have collected $14,000, and donations are still coming in.

Their enthusiasm for the project contagious, it was hardly surprising that they chose this grueling feat to raise money. Nobody told them fundraising was easy. Bill runs five days a week and has run in three other marathons. This was his first for a cause.

The Marathon Project originated last summer while the three were sharing AIDS anxieties. “My best friend had died,” said Bill, “and we wanted to do something positive for those who are sick.”

“We decided we wanted to raise money for an organization that provided direct services,” continued Bob. “We felt the research projects could be better handled by someone else, like the government. We chose Chicago House because it meets a direct need for those suffering with AIDS.”

Each set out to organize support teams who solicited pledges for every mile that Bill ran. They approached friends at Hart Studio, the American Litho Arts, and the New Texas Design to design and print cards and posters. Chicago House provided a support letter and description of the project. In three successive weekends, they personally handed out letters, pledge cards, and envelopes to the North Halsted bar crowd.

“We also enlisted the help of Frontrunners, which is they gay running club,” added Bill. “About six of their members ran with me and helped raise money. Altogether, they raised about $2,000. The extra sponsorship encouraged us and helped pyramid our efforts. With this groundwork, we hope to make this an annual event. We’ll raise more with added participants.”

“Believe it or not, we ran into people who never heard of Chicago House,” said Jim. “We created an awareness of the problems of AIDS, which is probably our greatest contribution. Personally, it’s the first time I allowed a sense of accomplishment into my life. I’m really proud of this.”

“I also learned a lot. First, it’s hard to raise money. Once we started into the project, however, I was amazed at the openings we created and all the alternatives we could have followed. Next year, we’ll raise even more.”

“People came together in the community in support,” commented Bob. “So many were anxious to give money, and our project and pledge cards made it convenient for them. In addition, we got lots of pledges from outside the gay community. I was really surprised to see so many cards that began with ‘Dr. and Mrs…’

“This was also my chance to approach all those who have asked me to donate to their charities. Do you know how many boxes of cookies I’ve bought over the years? Now I have my cause that they can contribute to.”

“Two of my friends raised $1,000 from people who live in Indiana!” exclaimed Jim. “We also got pledges from as far away as New York and San Francisco.”

“And Chicago House acknowledged every one of those donations,” added Bob. “Its thank you letter was beautifully written and entirely unexpected. I’ll have to say it really added to the respect people have for Chicago House.”

“We all appreciate the problems of AIDS through our own personal stories,” continued Bill. “One Barrington woman who owns a high-fashion shoe store lost a vendor from AIDS. Her pledges were for him. Another donor was dying of cancer. Even so, he wanted to do something, so he donated $260. That was really moving.”

Despite successfully completing a project that for most would be a pipe dream. Bill seemed nonplussed. “Sure I did the running, but we all made the project work. The three of us took a class in empowerment, which motivated us in the first place.”

“Empowerment is important,” he continued. “Through our efforts, we hope to empower people to take on projects of their own, whatever they may be. And we want our projects to continue to grow.”

Not the typical lanky runner, Bill’s quiet earnestness left little doubt of his physical determination to reach the finish line. “I had no doubts about completing the race. Toward the end, I had to run on psychic energy. The goal kept me going.”