Grayslake resident John Breen will be "pretty" easy to spot at Matt's Mile and 5K in Prairie Crossing Friday. He'll be the guy running in the long-sleeved sparkly pink leotard get-up.
It's all for a great cause, to raise money for the 12 Oaks Foundation, created by Steve and Julie Hupp after the death of their 13-year-old son Matt in 2009, from Birkitt's Lymphoma.
More than 30 residents have pledged about $1,200 to the 12 Oaks Foundation to see Breen make his colorful run.
Pretty in pink
The whole thing started with a light-hearted announcement on a neighborhood e-mail bulletin--then it snowballed.
Kim Thoede, one of Breen's neighbors, contacted Patch with the amusing story.
"A neighbor posted on our community e-mail list that her young daughter had outgrown a 'pink, glittery dance leotard' and did anyone want it? Various humorous posts ensued, one of the first was 'I’d pay $25 to see John Breen wear it in the 12 Oaks fun run!'"
Thoede said more neighbors started chiming in with their donation offerings.
Being the great sport that he is, Breen agreed to be pretty in pink in a sea of gold Matt's Mile T-shirts if his neighbors were serious about the donations. In fact, Breen said he'd run the course twice (6 miles) if donations reached $600. As of Wednesday, donations were twice that much.
Breen's wife Celeste is making the pink outfit, which is a work in progress, so there are no photos to share yet. Breen said even he hasn't seen the top secret outfit.
The size of the original pink leotard being offered up was mentioned in the community e-mail. Breen said one of his friends joked that it sounded about his size given that he's lost a lot of weight over the past couple years.
"I let it sit there for a day and commented that I wasn't down to that size!" said Breen.
The conversation among the neighbors continued until one said he would donate $25 to the 12 Oaks Foundation if Breen was game. The neighbor then challenged the others to "up the ante," said Breen.
"Within three hours, the e-mails had flown around the neighborhood and there was $110 pledged."
Though he just participated in the Fort2Base Race, an 11.5-mile run at Great Lakes held Sept. 29 to honor servicemen and women, Breen said he decided to participate in Matt's Mile less than a week later because it's a wonderful cause.
The 12 Oaks Foundation raises money to support other families coping with cancer and to help cover the costs of sports programs, extracurricular activities and camps for children with cancer as well as their siblings.
"Matt would love it"
The Breens have been friends with the Hupps for several years and are happy they can help the cause in honor of Matt, who loved all kinds of sports. They made sure to get the OK from the Hupps about wearing the pink outfit, though, said Breen.
"She (Julie Hupp) chuckled and said, 'Matt would love it and would think you're nuts.' She added, 'I think you should hold out for more money,'" said Breen.
"Well that was it," he said. "I publicly accepted the challenge."
There will be a pink envelope at the registration table at Friday's event for anyone who'd like to contribute to the "pink pool." All proceeds will benefit the 12 Oaks Foundation.
Runners and walkers alike are invited to participate in Matt's Mile and 5K, which includes a 1-mile race for kids 13 and younger at 5 p.m.; a 1-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.
The event will be held at Prairie Crossing, with the course going 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.
For details, or to make a donation to 12 Oaks, visit www.12oaksfoundation.org.