ABC 7 Gibbons 5K Run and 3K Walk goes virtual this year

CHICAGO (WLS) -- For the past 25 years, thousands of runners, walkers and volunteers have converged at Grant Park to fight blood cancers with the ABC7 Gibbons 5K Run and 3K Walk.

The run honors the memory of our colleague, reporter Jim Gibbons, who succumbed to leukemia.

Social distancing has not stopped the event, but rather it has led the Leukemia Research Foundation to change one of Chicago's oldest fundraising runs in a unique way.

"This year, to pivot and make this event virtual, we're really hoping that this opens up an opportunity for all families that live - whether in the suburbs or out of state - to come together with their families and have a virtual race that really brings out the best in our fundraising mission," said Blake Brandwein, board president.

RELATED: Virtual ABC 7 Gibbons 5K Run and 3K Walk Presented by First Midwest Bank

The virtual event takes place June 18-21. If you're interested, you can sign up online, and run or walk anywhere, anytime, at your own pace.

"Me personally, I'm going to be trying to run a 5K all 4 days," Brandwein said.

That ambition stems from Brandwein losing his mother, Penny, to leukemia in 1999.

Today, he's not only the foundation's board president, but a creator of Penny's Angels, one of many chapters that raise money to find a cure for blood cancers.

"We've raised over a quarter million dollars in our pursuit to support the Leukemia Research Foundation," Brandwein said.

Penny's sister was diagnosed with a blood cancer, in 2015. Her chapter, Susan's Squad, is also virtually in the run.

"I had a stem cell transplant in 2016, March 17th, and it took me awhile to bounce back but knock on something for four years, I've been feeling great and I'm working and I'm exercising and I feel like just a normal person," said Susan Munic, Penny's sister. "I don't let it get in my way."

Brandwein said even during a pandemic, "cancer doesn't take a back seat."

"So regardless of what's going on in the world, there's still new diagnoses going on every single day and the fight and the research continues every single day," he said.
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