Participants in Saturday’s EGI 5K Run/Walk, held at Miller Meadows Forest Preserve in Maywood, cross the finish line. Below, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins and Bridgette Chatman-Lewis, two of the event’s motivating forces, embrace. | Photos courtesy Larice Davis.
Saturday, June 11, 2016 || By Michael Romain
People young and old, fit and unfit converged on Miller Meadows Forest Preserve in Maywood this Saturday for a 5K Run/Walk hosted by the Economic Growth Initiative and co-sponsored by several local businesses, organizations and elected officials.
The event was, in part, a celebration of the community that Maywood currently is and the one EGI’s founder, business consultant Bridgette Chatman-Lewis, envisions in the future.
The 5K is part of a more comprehensive effort by Chatman-Lewis’s consulting group to ‘adopt’ Maywood, a process that entails enticing numerous developments, such as grocery stores and manufacturers, to the village.
“The end goal is to create a bustling local economy, create jobs, decrease crime, improve the aesthetic landscape and increase per capita incomes,” said Chatman-Lewis, a Maywood native, during an interview with this publication in February. “That can be done through supermarkets, restaurants, other businesses and manufacturing.”
Chatman-Lewis said her firm has created a “sustainable platform for year-round youth programs” and a series of initiatives designed to stimulate job creation, decrease crime and enhance the local landscape.
At Saturday’s race, Stephen Jackson, one of EGI’s programming coordinators, manned a booth designed to inform participants about his array of services. Jackson, a youth mentor whose work has become widely respected throughout the city and suburbs, said his range of programs will be based on what he calls five pillars.
“It’s all about building community through these five pillars, which are entrepreneurship, innovation, health and fitness, social and emotional learning, and careers. We have different people running these programs and volunteering. We’ll have paid youth workers as well. So, it’s an all-around win-win for the community. We’ll also have the older generations as well as the younger generations involved.”
Asia Ousley, a Maywood native and a corporate accountant by profession, will also coordinate programs for EGI. She said she wants to use the platform to launch a nonprofit of her own one day.
“This is my way of giving back and bringing something back to where I was raised,” said Ousley, a graduate of Emerson Elementary School and Proviso East High School.
In keeping with Jackson’s intergenerational observation, the walk/run was a mélange of experiences and ages and physiques — including the svelte, lean strides of Proviso East track stars and band members, some of whom performed as participants were crossing the finish line.
The top runners received medals and $100 Macy’s gift certificates. Jon Sylvester and Dominique Wallace posted the fastest times of all youth participants at 19:58.4 and 27:44.5, respectively. Ryan Gilmore and Megan Mcclintock posted the fastest times for adult participants, at 19:11.7 and 37:31.2, respectively.
An hour after finishing, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, one of the Saturday event’s most vocal proponents and a co-sponsor, seemed excited enough to pace the course one more time. Perkins, along with Maywood resident Lucille Redmond, received special recognition for their parts planning the race.
Perkins was an early supporter of EGI after Chatman-Lewis first approached her with the proposal to adopt Maywood more than a year ago. The mayor said the event is the first of its kind in the village — at least as far she’s aware.
“Bridgette is a Maywoodian, born and raised,” Perkins said. “For a person to come back to her town and give back; there’s nothing I can do but support her. The Lord is going to bless everyone who showed up this morning.” VFP