Each year since, the event has grown so popular that residents from other South Side neighborhoods wanted to be included and this year, the annual Englewood Ditch the Weight & Guns 5K Walk & Run will take place in Roseland and Chatham in addition to its namesake neighborhood.
“To see the support in the community, to see the support from the city is wonderful,” Natay said. “For some of them, a lot of them, this is their first time completing a 5K.”
Natay, an Englewood native, said she wanted to organize the event after returning home from the Navy and seeing her community had not changed for the better in her time away.
She said the race was intended to make health, wellness and safety a norm by build a community around a healthy activity.
“I saw people on TV running for a particular marathon happening downtown in Chicago and I was like, ‘why doesn’t that happened in my community?’” Natay said.
She said she selected Chatham and Roseland for the race expansion because they are predominantly African-American communities facing issues of gun violence and obesity and other health issues related.
“Combating and alleviating factors that motivate an individual to cause death or bodily harm by use of a firearm, is what is being addressed,” she said. “By creating and hosting 5K walk and runs in urban communities, we promote cohesiveness, health and wellness, family, self-worth, a sense of accomplishment and pride, community engagement and create a safe and supportive space.”
Each race is scheduled to take place on separate weekends throughout October. All races start at 10 a.m. Registration per race is $30. The Roseland 5K is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 14 at Palmer Park, 201 E. 111th St. The Englewood 5K is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 21 at Ogden Park, 6500 S. Racine Ave. The Chatham 5K is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 28 at Cole Park, 361 E. 85th St.
While the races have grown in popularity over the years, Natay said she doesn’t focus too much on turnout.
“If one person walks away and says, ‘This 5K was my first 5K’ that’s good enough for me,” Natay said.
Proceeds from previous Englewood 5Ks were donated to Harper High School, which Natay attended. She said the school was able to buy athletic equipment, a commercial juicer and a blender. A portion of the proceeds from this year’s Roseland 5K, Englewood 5K and Chatham 5K will be given to schools and community organizations within their respective neighborhoods. Natay has yet to make a final decision on where, when and to who the gifts will be made to.
Since its inception, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has always run in the Englewood 5K, Natay said. His participation this year has not yet been confirmed.