It's been 33 years since the abduction and murder of Jeanine Nicarico. Her family has worked hard in the difficult years that have followed to cherish Jeanine's memory and insure that her short life is not defined by how she died.
On June 4, the 15th Anniversary G.L.O.W. 5K Run in Naperville will celebrates Jeanine's life, as well as a noble cause - literacy.
When Jeanine Nicarico was in 3rd grade, her parents noticed that she had some difficulty with reading. She just wasn't very inspired. But a very good teacher helped Jeanine focus her reading on things she enjoyed - like horses.
"They did math around horses. They read books about horses, and she just started to blossom," her mother Pat Nicarico said.
Thirteen years after Jeanine's murder, her family launched the Jeanine Nicarico Memorial Fund for Literacy. In its two decades, they have raised over $350,000 in grants to promote literacy, bring together young readers and authors, and inspire the youngster who may be hesitant to pick up a book. And here's how they raise that grant money - with a 5K run or walk for those who choose to move at a slower pace.
"It started out with less than 200 people in Naperville here, and just continued to grow and blossom," said her sister Kathy Nicarico Brown
And along the way, there have been moments that inspire - like the 13 year old runner who won a cash prize.
"She won money and a gift certificate and she came up to Tracey and I and she said, I can't take this. I want to give it back. She gave it back. She was 13 years old. I mean who would think," Brown said.
Race Director Tracey Nelson said: "She said you do so much good, and you're raising money for such good things. I want to give this back."
There is no understating the joy this brings to a family that had to endure unimaginable grief.
"And it's been a sad, horrible saga and so when all this evolved with grants and the run, it put a positive spin on Jeanine's memory," said her father Tom Nicarico
"It's really is very touching that we've touched so many children and people with these funds. It's amazing. It's incredible," said mom Pat Nicarico.
The Glow 5K is limited to 2,000 participants. Last year, they hit their limit and would like to do it again this year.
Deadline to sign-up is Monday.
For more info, visit www.nicaricoliteracyfund.org.
Event honors Naperville girl killed 33 years ago