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Peace rally planned for Washington Park

  • The flyer for the 5K walk and 10K run on June 15 in Washington Park.
The flyer for the 5K walk and 10K run on June 15 in Washington Park.
May 22, 2013|By Leonor Vivanco, @lvivanco | RedEye

Chicagoans are being asked to help run violence out of the city.

The Safe and Healthy Summer 5K Walk and 10K Run through Woodlawn and Englewood is planned for 8 a.m. June 15 at Washington Park, followed by a peace rally at 10:30 a.m.

So far, 350 people have registered, said Corey Brooks, pastor of the New Beginnings Church of Chicago. He is behind Project H.O.O.D. (Helping Others Obtain Destiny), which is organizing the event. The goal is to get 5,000 people to participate in the run/walk and even more at the peace rally, he said.

Permits have not been issued yet for the event, city and park officials said.

Brooks said the event will be a way to get people to think about staying safe and being healthy this summer, to come together to make the community a better place and to help build a community center.

"The run is first of all a health initiative. It's to continue to raise proceeds much needed to build a community center. And thirdly, it's an event to get everyone to the peace rally," he said.

Brooks has interacted closely with families in the community who have lost relatives and friends due to violence. He has acted as a spokesman for the family of Jonylah Watkins, the 6-month-old girl fatally shot in March in Woodlawn, and attended rapper Lil Jojo's funeral.

"A lot of violence happens in our neighborhoods, especially in the summertime," he said. "We really do believe a lot of the violence is driven by economic ills, educational ills, social and spiritual ills. So we really need a community center that can be a focal point to help fight these issues."

The registration fee of $25 for the walk and $35 for the run go toward the Project H.O.O.D. fundraising effort to build a community center at 6625 S. King Drive in Woodlawn where a motel was once located, Brooks said.

Once built, the center is envisioned as a place to offer educational, social and job readiness programs, counseling services, workshop training to juveniles on probation, high school dropouts, future business owners and entrepreneurs, according to the Project H.O.O.D. website.

A portion of the race proceeds will go to help victims of the Boston Marathon bombings via HopeMob, an online crowdfunding platform, Brooks said.

At the peace rally, Brooks hopes to foster the conversation about reducing violence in the city and share information with families about available park district and nonprofit programs.

And the race could be a way to unite residents from neighborhoods across the city too, he said.

"We want to show them there are positive things going on as well. We need their help."

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