Chicago's Race Against Gun Violence brings hundreds together at Grant Park

Evelyn Holmes Image
Saturday, June 3, 2023
Race Against Gun Violence brings hundreds together at Grant Park
Hundreds of runners and walkers came together at Grant Park for Chicago's Race Against Gun Violence.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Orange was the color of the day at this year's Race Against Gun Violence as communities as people around Chicago came together to fight for peace.

"The best way to make change is start by doing what you feel is right. So, I feel like today is a date to participate in something that will help stop violence," said K'Juan Williams.

Many gathered at Upper Hutchinson Field in Grant Park for the 10th year of the event. Most donned the color orange, which hunters wear for protection, to honor the lives of those touched by violence, like Jashawn Hill. She lost her brother in 2008 and a cousin in 2021.

"For me, it's like, a no-brainer. I'm going to be here. I'm going to be a part of this. This is my call to action," Hill said.

Saturday's effort is the work of the group Strides for Peace. It coincides with the Wear Orange Weekend, part of an ongoing gun violence awareness campaign.

Its purpose is to call for change while celebrating the life changing work of anti-gun violence advocates being done in the city's neighborhoods. All donations made Saturday will go to participating organizations.

Maggie Baczowski is the founder of Strides for Peace.

"Everyone has a part in ending gun violence. I think people get very overwhelmed and don't know where to go, how to address the issue, what can one person do," said Baczowski. "But literally showing up to a race to connect with organizations that have committed their lives to ending, this is a great start."

This year, more than 80 community organizations, local businesses and neighborhood groups are involved.

"This takes a city to come together to end gun violence. It can't be on one neighborhood. It can't be on the police. It can't be on the mayor or the state leaders. It's really about Chicagoans coming together to do their part and showing up for the city," Baczowski said.

It was the first time Israel's Gift of Hope was there to help in the effort to stop the killings.

"It's so normalized. 'Oh, there was a shooting. Oh, it happens; it's Chicago.' But, it's not," said Dalia Aragon with Israel's Gift of Hope.

The day includes 8K and 5K runs and a walk as well as the popular Tots for Peace sprint. And, as these communities come together to support a common goal, for some, like Dionte Lawson, a message remains.

"Most of the violence that happens is because of the young, so if they see other people stepping up, they might try to solve it," Lawson said.