Running for Ava: Gurnee Turkey Trot to raise funds for local girl with cerebral palsy
Lake County News-Sun - 11/13/2018
Nov. 13--For its silver anniversary event, the annual Jon Callaghan Memorial Turkey Trot in Gurnee has chosen a special beneficiary for some of its proceeds this year.
People participating on Thanksgiving morning in the Turkey Trot, organized by the Gurnee police and fire departments, will be walking or running in part this year on behalf of 4-year-old Ava Jarc of Gurnee.
Ava was born 16 weeks early, and the premature birth, along with complications, left her with quadriplegic cerebral palsy, a condition that leaves her with little control of her arms or legs and in need of special equipment to remain mobile.
Ava's mom, Chantille Jarc, said she was "very shocked" to learn that Ava had been chosen as a beneficiary. She said any funds donated will likely go toward a much-needed accessible minivan. Currently, she and her husband, Bret, must lift all of the equipment Ava needs to go to therapy, school and other destinations into a Ford Escape, which is not an easy task.
"This is a great community," she said of Gurnee, where she and her husband moved six years ago.
Ava has been making progress with her limited vocabulary and is learning new words, but she will have both physical and educational special needs as she moves from preschool to kindergarten and beyond, Jarc said.
But she added that Ava has already progressed much further than doctors had predicted, and that while Ava might never be able to walk unassisted, still needs to be fed and have most of her needs tended to by others, the Jarcs still have big hopes for their daughter.
"She's there cognitively. It's her body that's debilitated by cerebral palsy," Chantilly said. "I feel she's actually going to do amazing things. I see her going to college."
Jarc and Gurnee Police Commander Willie Meyer both said The Riddick's Ride Foundation suggested Ava as a beneficiary to Gurnee police.
According to Jarc, the not-for-profit foundation helps families with special-needs children, especially focusing on mobility needs. Ava's mom said she was not aware the group was planning to suggest the Jarc family as a beneficiary, but is very happy it did.
"I'm almost speechless," she said.
Nov. 22 will mark the 25th-annual Jon Callaghan Memorial Turkey Trot. The race started in 1994, and was renamed in 1997 in honor of Jon Callaghan, a grade-school student in Gurnee who passed away after a battle with neuroblastoma cancer.
Each year, the event, which usually draws between 400 to 500 participants, according to Meyer, raises money for several causes, including charitable programs run by Gurnee Community Church.
At the request of the Callaghan family, funds raised have also been used to help the Warren Township Food Pantry, University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital, Gurnee School District 56's special-needs programs and others.
Meyer said organizers try to find a beneficiary family to help each year as well. He added that while one is not always found, the suggestion of the Jarc family was enthusiastically backed.
According to Meyer, pre-registration for the race is up this year, and organizers are hoping for a large turnout.
Mayor Krysti Kovarik said the Jon Callaghan Turkey Trot has become as much a part of Thanksgiving in Gurnee as football and large dinners.
"It's become a family tradition in Gurnee on Thanksgiving for many years now," the mayor said, crediting the Police Department with starting the event and driving it forward.
This year's 5K fun run/walk is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving. The starting line will be posted in the 4600 block of Old Grand Avenue, and participants will finish in front of Gurnee Fire Station 1 on Old Grand. Refreshments will be provided after the event in the Gurnee Community Church hall.
Pre-registration is open through Nov. 19 and can be completed online for $25 at www.eventbrite.com.
Long-sleeved T-shirts will be available to the first 350 participants to check in on race day. Check-in starts at 7 a.m.
Donations to the Turkey Trot are accepted. Those donating can mail checks payable to the Gurnee Turkey Trot to Gurnee Turkey Trot, 325 N. O'Plaine Road., Gurnee, IL 60031.
The Jarcs also have a GoFundMe.com page to help with medical and equipment expenses for Ava, which are well exceeding their income. Their page may be found at www.GoFundMe.com by searching for "Mobility for Ava."
(c)2018 the Lake County News-Sun (Lake County, Ill.)
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