Leading sports celebrities even brought some extra muscle to the fundraising effort that year. Late Olympian Florence Griffith Joyner headlined a special 5K charity challenge in conjunction with marathon weekend’s 5K race to raise even more support for our young people. Runners participating in the 5K race on marathon day made a minimum donation of $10 for the chance to beat the official “challenge time” set by the world’s fastest woman 11 days earlier at a 5K race held at the University of Chicago. Mercy Home’s young people were on hand to cheer Joyner on as she set the 5K challenge time.
In another marathon pamphlet we found in our archives, two famous local baseball players urged fans to support Mercy Home through the marathon. Robin Ventura, then third baseman for the Chicago White Sox, who later coached the team for four seasons, wrote “self-respect, honesty, hard work, and self-reliance are among the values Mercy Home for Boys & Girls teaches its residents. Please join me in supporting the kids!”
Cubs catcher Joe Girardi, who would go on to coach the New York Yankees to the team’s 27th World Series title in 2009, wrote, “Against a backdrop of hurt, abuse, and neglect, these kids are working hard to build self-esteem and become successful, caring adults.”