In early October on the trails near Lake Aldo Leopold, you can see purple aster in bloom, towering yellow cup plants and fiery red sumac, and the multicolored streaks of hundreds of runners sprinting through the prairie.
Matt’s Mile is named after Matthew Hupp, a Grayslake youth who died in 2009 from Burkitt’s Lymphoma, a rare form of cancer that typically targets children.
After watching their son’s painful struggle and seeing its effect on their family, Steve and Julie Hupp decided to start a foundation to help other people facing a cancer diagnosis. 12 Oaks provides grants to cover the cost of extracurricular activities for children with cancer and their siblings so they can stay active during the treatment process.
“When Matt was sick, so many people in this community reached out to comfort and help us,” said Matt's mom, Julie Hupp. “Now I see those same people at every 12 Oaks event, and I want them to know how much their support means not only to my family, but to many others who have to fight this horrible disease.”
12 Oaks Foundation
Founded in 2010, the foundation awards grants to individuals applying through the 12 Oaks website and also contributes to area programs that fit the 12 Oaks mission. One grant recipient, Gilda’s Club Chicago, provides free summer camps, workshops and support groups for families coping with cancer.
This year the foundation also awarded $5,000 to the One Step at a Time Camp administered by Children’s Oncology Services, Inc. Those funds enabled five children fighting cancer to enjoy a week of summer camp in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and share that experience with other kids dealing with similar challenges.
“We are extremely grateful to our friends at 12 Oaks Foundation,” said Jeff Infusino, president of Children’s Oncology Services, Inc. "(Their) generosity provides more than an amazing camp experience—it provides children and their families with hope, support, unbreakable friendships, confidence and skills that serve our campers well as they return home to face whatever challenges may lie ahead.”
12 Oaks also funds extracurricular programs for kids in families facing financial hardship for reasons unrelated to cancer. In Lake County, the foundation helps cover the cost of the Hoopster Basketball Camp, a nonprofit program offered free to grade school boys and girls whose families can’t afford extracurricular activities like camps.
Most of the grant money 12 Oaks raises comes from two annual fundraisers, a Hoops for Hope 3-on-3 basketball tournament held every March at Grayslake North High School, and Matt’s Mile and 5K, scheduled the first week in October to commemorate Matt Hupp’s birthday, Oct. 8. If Matt had lived, he would have turned 17 this year.
Runners and walkers are welcome to participate in the Oct. 5 event, which includes a one-mile race for children age 13 and younger at 5 p.m.; a one-mile race for runners 14 and older at 5:20 p.m.; and a 5K run or walk for all ages at 5:40 p.m.
All runners are chip-timed. Mostly on crushed gravel trails, the 5K course takes participants past an organic farm, prairies, horse pastures and a stable, and around Lake Aldo Leopold.
An awards ceremony follows the race, and the top three male and female runners in each age group will take home medals. Anyone who can beat Matt Hupp’s fastest one-mile race time of 6:13 or his fastest 5K race time of 21:27 will also be automatically entered in a raffle to win a gift basket or other prizes.
Registration is $25 for kids running the one-mile race, and $35 for all other participants. Each registration fee includes a free T-shirt, free dinner with choices from Emil's or Papa John's, free beverage, either beer or soda, and the post-race party featuring music by Memory Makers.
Tickets to attend the party only, including food, drinks and entertainment, are $15.
To register for Matt’s Mile & 5K or make a donation to 12 Oaks, visit www.12oaksfoundation.org.
A nationally-recognized nonprofit 501c(3) charity, 12 Oaks Foundation helps cover fees for sports and other extracurricular programs for children in families experiencing temporary financial hardship. The foundation grants special consideration to families coping with cancer. Partnering with community organizations, 12 Oaks assists grant-in-aid programs and is establishing college scholarships to aid students with exceptional academic and community service records. The charity was founded in 2010 by Steve and Julie Hupp in memory of their son, Matthew Hupp (1995—2009). For more information, visit www.12oaksfoundation.org or call (847) 508-1168.