Charity fundraiser gets crazy with 5K run

About 1,000 participants did more than just run to compete in a 5K race Saturday. They ran, crawled and jumped in support of local charities at the Champaign County fairgrounds.

The inspiration for the event came from Parham Parastaran, owner and manager of a couple CarX stores in the area. His goal was to raise money and give back to the community that supports his businesses. The obstacle course raised approximately $25,000. Parastaran said he wanted to create a fundraiser that not only raised money, but was also fun for the participants and spectators. To attract a variety of people, Parastaran chose to do a less traditional 5K.

“We have plenty of 5K events in the area and nothing like this exists within 150 miles,” Parastaran said. “It allows you to be creative and change it up every year. (There is) only so much you can do with a 5K. Lastly, it targets more than just runners.”

In addition to the race, participants were able to listen to various local bands and enjoy refreshments. This event attracted people from surrounding areas, including Betsy Bolick, who traveled from Kansas City to join her friends and to run the Crazy K.

“Everybody likes to go out and have a fun time and get dressed up and crazy,” Bolick said. “I think people would rather participate in something like that. Everyone can do it; you don’t have to be serious runners.”

The proceeds from the Crazy K will be donated to eight different local charities including Crisis Nursery, Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity and Mills Breast Cancer Institute. Many of the participants had a personal connection to the charities. Annette Casagrande, a parent at St. Thomas Moore High School in Champaign, said she chose to run the 5K with her daughter to honor the death of a fellow student on her daughter’s volleyball team.

“I hope they do this every year, and I think every year it will get bigger and better,” Casagrande said. “It’s kind of a bonding thing everyone gets together as a community.”

Workers from the charities also took an active role by volunteering at the event.

Kristen Bosch, developing and marketing director at Crisis Nursery and Crazy K volunteer, said she thinks it is important that multiple charities and organizations in the community work together.

“So often we have fundraisers in the community that are held by different organizations that only benefit one charity,” Bosch said. “The fact of the matter is the charities work together on a daily basis. So it’s great to have a fundraiser that’s benefiting multiple charities.”

The turnout for the event demonstrated community involvement, Bosch said.

“I just think that the community involvement is really incredible, there is over 1,000 racers here today and that just shows that Champaign-Urbana has a great heart and not only do they want to have a lot of fun but they want to give back,” she said.