You might say that the Forest Park Firefighter’s Local 2753 have created a grave situation in planning their inaugural 5K run on Friday, Oct. 3. That’s because the race will be held at Concordia Cemetery.

Phil Chiappetta said his colleague, Lindsey Hankus, came up with the idea of holding the run in cemetery. The two are organizing the event. Chiapetta said having the run at Concordia is a great idea because it’s a safe place to run, easy to monitor and right next door to the after-race party to be held at Altenheim Grove, so people won’t have to cross a main street to get there.

Hankus added that when she looked online, she found a few other races that were held in cemeteries, but this one was especially appropriate because “I just felt it fit with the history of Forest Park.”

To register go online to www.forestpark.net and look for the link to sign up. Registration categories include:

AGE           DISTANCE                START            FEE

Adult          Running 5K                6 p.m.           $30

Adult          Walking 5K                 6 p.m.           $25

Kids            Running 1 mile            5:15 p.m.           $15

The registration fee on the day of the event will increase by $5 for all categories. Pre-race ceremonies will be held at 5:45 p.m. and the party at the Grove following the run will include food, drink, raffles and awards. Hankus said that each registrant will get tickets redeemable for food and beer at the party, and that non-participants will be able to purchase tickets there.

Hankus said that the goal of the “race” is not so much see who will win but just to finish and have a healthy event, especially for the kids. Or, to put it another way, she said, “Our goals are simple. Good people, good friends, and a relaxing night.”

The other purpose of the FireFighter’s 5K run is to raise money to give to charities like the mayor’s toy drive and to community events like the All School Picnic and the Chamber of Commerce Christmas Walk. Not a penny of what will be raised at the event will go to the firefighters or their union.

Hankus added that Local 2753 is also in the process of setting up a scholarship for a Forest Park resident who enrolls at Triton College in their firefighter science or emergency medical programs, and that some of the money raised at the run would go to fund that project.

“We’re doing this because we give back to the community in the form of donations,” Chiappetta explained. “Our firefighter’s union hasn’t had a fundraiser in over ten years, and we get a lot of requests for donations.”

Hankus and Chiappetta have been extremely pleased with the support they’ve received from the business community in town. The businesses included in their Platinum Sponsor group include Riveredge Hospital, the Village of Forest Park, Bulldog Bootcamp &Crossfit, Piggyback Tavern, Schauer’s Hardware and Essential Equipment Solutions. Thirty-three other local businesses are supporting the event at lower levels.

Especially because this is the first time the firefighters have held an event like this, they’ve partnered with the Park District of Forest Park.

“The Park District is helping with some of the race day logistics,” said the Park’s Recreation Supervisor Rachell Entler.

“Holding the 5K in the cemetery is a great way to start October and all the other fall and Halloween events Forest Park has going on. This is just another example of how the various village entities team up and work together to make Forest Park a great place.”

One of those entities is Concordia Cemetery General Manager Gary Neubeiser. “None of this would be possible without his cooperation,” said Hankus. “He’s been amazing and excited about it, not only giving us permission but calling me with volunteers, including members of his son’s cross country team at Walther High School.” Another entity, Hankus added, is their fire chief, Steve Glinke. “He has been the most important asset in our planning.”

Perhaps Forest Park’s firefighters have been flying their charitable missions under the community’s radar. Laurie Kokenes, the executive directive of our Chamber of Commerce declared, “I might be accused of being a bit biased, but as far as I’m concerned, Forest Park’s firefighters are a remarkable bunch of guys and girls, both on and off the job. For more than 20 years I’ve been fortunate enough to call many of them good friends, and throughout that time they’ve been generous both personally and to the community.

“The Forest Park Firefighters Union Local 2753 continually supports community efforts including the Chamber’s Annual Meeting, Holiday Walk, St. Patrick’s Day Parade…and the Casket Races,” She added. “TJ (Tom Janopoulos) built the Chamber’s prototype casket, spending countless hours of his time perfecting it. They’re professional, funny, generous, loyal and amazing friends.”

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