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CRS Stevens-Hamilton Disabled Runner Fund

The purpose of this fund is to assist present or future disabled athletes. Please download an application to further describe your individual circumstances that may qualify you for financial assistance from this fund.

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by Mel Muchnik

It is hard to believe that two years have passed since that fateful day when Bob "Bird" Stevens, President of the Park Forest Running and Pancake Club, and a member of the Calumet Region Striders, flew over his handle bars in a forest preserve, and suffered an unbelievable accident that left him paralyzed, and ultimately took his life 15 months later.

The response of the running communities throughout Chicago southland and northwest Indiana, and well beyond, was nothing short of extraordinary. Our running club (The Park Forest RPC) created a trust fund, acting as a funnel to numerous drives to assist Bob and his wife Althea. In all, more than $40,000 was contributed to the fund, and another substantial amount before the Fund was ever established was sent to Althea directly for an account the family established. Now our work is done, but the legacy and the efforts will continue through the continuing fund established by CRS in Bob's name.

A check for the balance of the fund was presented to Jean Tolchinsky, CRS President, at the Midwinter Frolic in Park Forest on January 9. And I would be remiss if I did not cite the glorious efforts of Shirley Kowalisyn and the many, many of you in CRS who raised money in so many different ways. The fund was enormously successful in raising substantial funds from a generous Chicago area running community, participation by many running clubs throughout Chicago and beyond, notably the Park Forest Running and Pancake Club and the Calumet Region Striders. Our expenditures included money to assist Bob during his ordeal in the year following the accident, complete payment of all funeral expenses, major financial assistance to Althea to help her and Bob survive the financial drain and then to restart her life, a bench/tree/monument in Murphy Park across from the Woods entrance (location within to be identified by Village landscape architect in coordination with former Trustees), and a major contribution to the CRS Bob Stevens Fund for Disabled Runners, whose goals for continuity are identical to those established by the Fund. Most importantly, we honored Bob, in life and now in eternity. He was more than our President.

To our Bird, our friend and the eternal Emperor of the Park Forest Running and Pancake Club.

Mel Muchnik, President
Bob "Bird" Stevens Fund for Disabled Runners

Jennie Hamilton
DOD: August 6, 2006

In Jennie Hamilton's memory and honor, the Calumet Region Strider Board Members on August 9, 2006 voted to amend the Bob Stevens Disabled Runner Fund to be forever renamed and recognized as the Stevens-Hamilton Disabled Runner Fund.

Jennie Hamilton received her degree in 2003 from Purdue University Calumet in Health, Fitness & Nutrition and she devoted her all-too-brief life to health and fitness. Jennie had a passion for endurance events and was always searching for tough races to test her abilities. Jennie spent most of her life in Northwest Indiana, but all of her life involved in sports and physical activities. Her competitive nature and inner drive was apparent at an early age and continued on throughout her 26 years in activities like swimming, softball, and running. She always found a way to incorporate exercise and fitness into her daily routine.

Jennie was a very modest about her successes, but even more so about the physical challenges she faced her entire life. Born premature, she came into this world a fighter and departed the same way. She had multiple congenital heart defects including holes, a leaking valve, and dialated/enlarged right side. Just last September Jennie underwent surgery to repair the two holes. Her physical ability reached new heights in 2006, and she was out on the course shattering her old PR's and taking on new challenges.

Along with being a competitive running member of the Calumet Region Striders, she also participated in triathlons and adventure races. At the time of her death, she was training for the Wisconsin Ironman Triathlon (swim 2.4 miles, bike 112.5 miles, run 26.2 miles) and considered returning to school in the Nursing program to further her ability to reach out to others and provide assistance for their health needs. She spent her last moments doing something she loved; being outside participating in physical activity, training for the Wisconsin Ironman. Jennie and a friend were out on an easy twenty mile bike ride in Valparaiso when the accident occurred.

Jennie Hamilton will live on in many ways. Her family wanted it known that she was an organ donor, and was able to extend the lives of four others in this world. She will also live on in countless newspaper articles boasting of her outstanding results, in photos surrounded by loved ones, and in thoughts and fond memories of those she touched. Within Calumet Region Striders, her name will remain. Please remember both Bob and Jennie through the Stevens-Hamilton Disabled Runner Fund.