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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Wicker Park Woman Attempts To Hula Hoop For 100 Hours To Break World Record While Raising $10,000 For Mental Health

"If you want to do something weird [in Chicago], people will come out in heaps to see you," said Jenny Doan, 29, of Wicker Park.

Wicker Park resident Jenny Doan, 29, is attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the longest duration of hula hooping.
Hannah Alani / Block Club Chicago
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NEAR WEST SIDE — As the clock struck noon Tuesday, Jenny Doan had hula hooped for five hours inside District Brew Yards — and she was nowhere near done.

Doan, 29, plans to hula hoop inside the brewery collective until 11 a.m. Saturday, hopefully setting a new Guinness Book of World Record for 100 hours of consecutive hooping. As the Wicker Park resident hula hoops inside the brewery at 417 N. Ashland Ave., she hopes to raise $10,000 for Mental Health America, an organization that is close to her heart.

As of Tuesday evening, she’s raised $410 toward her goal.

While she has her own goal of completing 100 hours of hula hooping, at 10 a.m. Friday she will break the current world record of 74 hours 54 minutes. This record was set in 2009 in Ohio by Aaron Hibbs.

In addition to donations to Mental Health America, which can be submitted here, Doan needs neighbors to step up as volunteer “time keepers,” who can get a $25 gift card to District Brew Yards for donating their time. View available time slots here.

Doan’s hooping hobby began in 2012. Five years ago, she tried to connect with Hibbs, the current record keeper, on Facebook, but wasn’t successful.

In August she began an intense 16-week hula hooping training program, in which she took a marathoner’s training schedule and converted miles running to hours hooping.

Training included a mix of “cardio” days, in which she practiced with smaller hoops, and endurance days, on which she would hoop for at least two hours while watching “Fast and Furious” movies with her roommates. She’s now caught up on the franchise, she said.

In recent weeks, she began hooping for 30-50 hours at a time, taking Monday off work to recover.

She’s also met with a podiatrist and bought compression socks, special shoes and an anti-fatigue mat. At some point this week, she will remove her socks and shoes and hoop barefoot, which she said she prefers, anyway.

District Brew Yards offered itself as a venue for Doan’s hooping conquest.

On Monday night, just before starting her challenge, Doan made 75 dumplings in her kitchen. These are stockpiled and ready to be reheated once every six hours for her “hot meals.”

She’s also snacking on Pringles, chocolate and fruit.

Within an arm’s reach, Doan has access to a sleeping bag, snacks and an Xbox controller to use to watch Netflix on a flat screen. As Chicago sleeps, she can Facetime pals back home in her native country of Australia.

The Guinness book allows five-minute breaks each hour, but Doan’s strategy is to skip breaks and bank that time for nightly half-hour naps. She brought a sleeping bag and her pillows from home.

She hopes people will come out to see her and say hello. And, of course, donate to her cause.

Also within an arm’s reach is a reminder of why Doan chose Mental Health America as the organization she wanted to support.

A stuffed banana, wrapped in a bright blue patterned pillowcase, sits in front of her. The pillow case was a gift from her older sister, who died at the age of 15 when Doan was 12.

After her sister’s death, Doan said she received professional help for her mental health. These resources are easily accessibly in Australia, she said.

When she moved to America this year, Doan said she felt Americans were less able or less likely to seek mental health services. That’s a big reason why she hopes people will be inspired by her hula hooping and donate to Mental Health America.

“I hope this sort of thing shines a light [on that],” she said. “There was a time where I didn’t know what could happen … couldn’t get out of bed … Now, there’s no doubt in my mind that I can finish and do this. “

Doan moved to the U.S. earlier this year after her employer, Uber, invited her to relocate to Chicago to work for Uber Freight. She is currently an analyst for the company, which works with semi truck companies.

Since moving to Wicker Park, she has fallen in love with Wormhole Coffee, Bru and En Hakkore.

Her roommates, whom she found via Craigslist, have helped her with her training.

“People have been really welcoming,” she said. “If you want to do something weird [in Chicago], people will come out in heaps to see you, Doan said.

Catch Doan hoola hooping at District Brew Yards, which will be open 3-11 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 11:30-1 a.m. Friday and 11 a.m.-midnight Saturday.

Those who can’t stop by to witness Doan in action can also watch her live stream.

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