Local church runs for Orphans

MCHENRY – Overcast skies did not keep a record number of participants away Satursday morning from McHenry's annual River Run.

The total reached 482 runners combined for both a 5K walk/run and a 10K run, starting and finishing from McHenry High School's East Campus. There were a number of reasons why people chose to run in this year's event, but one group had a good cause in mind.

Members of The Chapel church in McHenry all wore orange shirts reading "Oasis for Orphans." The group is a nonprofit organization that raises money and awareness for orphans in Kenya. The Chapel had a couple head over to Kenya to start and oversee their latest project: building a new orphanage.

"It's a really great cause that I'm happy to be a part of," team leader Denise Van Peursem said. "People all over are running races to spread the awareness and that's what we were trying to do here today."

The group had between 16 and 18 people running in the 5K and 10K races. Van Peursem was unsure of the exact number, because of what she believes as a success of spreading the awareness.

"I couldn't give an exact amount because we saw people today with shirts on, that weren't part of our group," she explained. "We love that a great cause can be spread and we are well on our way."

The ages of participants on 'Team Oasis' varied, with the youngest member, a ten-year-old running the 10K race, and oldest member, 63, running the 5K.

As far as the race results went, Crystal Lake's Patrick McCay finished first in the 5K with a time of 18:32.3. Curtis Weisenberger, a McHenry graduate and current runner at Illinois-Chicago won the 10K (34:21.5).

One of the members of Team Oasis was pastor Jeff Pittman who crossed the finish line of the 5K running with his child's stroller. Although many of the members of the group were first-time runners, Pittman said this wasn't his first go around with the stroller and says the kids are used to it by now.

"It gets easier the more times you run," he said. "You can guide it when running downhill, but the uphill parts can get kind of tough."

Pittman and The Chapel have been raising money, with a goal of $10K in mind to help build their orphanage. Just for the River Run, the group believed their total to be just under $3,000. Van Peursem explained that the group will be able to check in on the orphanage project next fall.

"We are planning a mission trip to that area, and will get to check up on [our couple] and the progress of what we have been raising for."

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