The 5K Run/Walk that Charles Tillman is hosting to benefit his Cornerstone Foundation is only a few days away, but it’s not too late to sign up for Saturday’s event at Soldier Field.
“We have a lot of runners in Chicago and what better way to connect with them than a 5K?” said the Bears cornerback, who plans to walk the course. “I’ve participated in three or four 5Ks and there’s always huge support and everyone seems to have a lot of fun, so why not try it?”
The Charles “Peanut” Tillman 5K Run/Walk is being held in conjunction with Universal Sole, a running store with two Chicago locations that often hosts races and fun runs.
All those who register for Saturday’s event will receive entry into the race and pre- and post-race parties as well as an official Peanut Tillman running shirt. Prizes will be awarded to the top three male and female finishers in 13 different age categories from 14-and-under through 70-and-older.
The overall male and female winners of the 5K will win an all-expenses-paid trip to Denver to compete in the Wings for Life World Run on May 4.
A two-time Pro Bowler who was recently named the 2013 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year, Tillman marvels at the mental toughness that avid runners possess.
“I’m very impressed with their ability to stay focused, especially marathon runners,” he said. “After about a mile I get bored and I try to sprint and then I use up all my energy and I get tired.”
The pre- and post-race parties Saturday will be held inside the United Club at Soldier Field. The 5K Run/Walk was initially going to take place at another location, but it was moved to the Bears’ home stadium, where Tillman has starred since arriving in 2003 as a second-round draft pick.
“I think it’s cool and unique that we can hold it at Soldier Field because that’s where I work and play,” Tillman said. “It’s another way to connect with the Bears fans out there.”
Registration costs $40 for the 5K run/walk and $20 for a kid’s dash for children 12-and-under. The race-day fee will be $50, payable in cash only. The group that signs up the most runners/walkers will win an ultimate “Tillman Tailgate Party,” to be held this summer or fall for up to 50 people.
All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Cornerstone Foundation, which Tillman and his wife Jackie created in 2005.
The foundation initially provided children with educational opportunities and resources to excel in the classroom. But after their three-month-old daughter, Tiana, was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy and received a life-saving heart transplant in 2008, the Tillmans changed the mission to improving the lives of critically and chronically ill children.
Since its inception, the Cornerstone Foundation has impacted over one million children and raised more than $1 million. Its signature programs include “Charles’ Locker,” “Field of Dreams,” “Holiday Celebration,” “TendHER Heart Luncheon” and “The Tiana Fund.”
Tillman has teamed up with Universal Sole for past events and appreciates the support.
“Universal Sole has been an amazing blessing to the Cornerstone Foundation,” Tillman said. “They’ve done everything to help us grow. They’ve donated a lot of man hours and helped us meet more people in everything they’ve done. I am extremely grateful for them.”
Universal Soul’s stores are located at 3052 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, and at 333 East Benton near Lake Shore East Park. Since opening in 1999, Universal Sole has strived to meet the needs of runners, walkers and racers. The store has built a reputation for its knowledgeable staff and its specialized inventory of footwear and hard-to-find sizes.