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Community comes together to run for Bud

Published: Monday, June 17, 2013 9:46 a.m. CDT

CAROL STREAM – Before he lost his battle with sarcoma in April 2003, Harold “Bud” Swanson touched many lives as Carol Stream’s Glenbard North High School cross country and track and field coach. He was said to be a man of discipline and determination, who was passionate and compassionate, with a sense of humor and spirit that inspired all who knew him.

“Bud was the most important person in my life during high school,” Kristin Whitezell said. “Every race I ran was for him, whether he was in the stands or somewhere else.”

Swanson, who also was the school psychologist, led the girls to a series of team and individual championships at the conference, district and state levels. Highlighting the championships was a Class AA cross country state championship in 1994 and Whitezell’s spectacular win in the 2003 Class AA 1600 meters, which took place a few weeks after Swanson’s death.

Running last heading into the final lap, Whitezell passed the other runners to win.

“I had an angel on my shoulder,” Whitezell said. “I had the courage to do things in a race I’ve never done before.” 

Swanson’s spirit lives on in the Bud’s Run fundraiser which supports the Sarcoma Foundation of America. This year’s run marks the 10th anniversary and it is set to begin at 8 a.m. June 22 at the Ross Ferraro Town Center, at the corners of Gary Avenue and Lies Road in Carol Stream.

Since 2004, the run has raised about $82,000 from runners’ participation fees and donations from sponsors and friends. It is expected that between 400 and 500 runners will participate this year with an estimated $10,000 raised.

However, Bud’s Run, which was established by his wife, Sharon Swanson, in June 2004, is more than a fundraiser.

“Above all, this race is a celebration,” Sharon Swanson said. “Bud loved to run and race and he loved coaching runners. Bud’s Run is a joyous gathering of runners, friends of runners and those who understand that life is precious and deserves celebration every day.”

Family friend and former runner Ray Valek said, “I looked up to him as a role model.”

Valek recalled visiting the high school because he wanted to see the “great coach.” 

“He was dedicated to the kids,” Valek said. “We shared the same values.”

Swanson mentioned how some races eventually lose their attraction, but each year Bud’s Run seems to attract even more runners and supporters than the previous year. Many of Bud’s former runners come back year after year, with some coming from other states to participate in the run.

“It’s like an alumni,” she said of the many former students and friends who return.

Swanson and her children, Ben, Stephanie and Sydney will be at the race, as well as five of their six grandchildren.

“It’s important that we continue as long as we can,” Swanson said. “Through this I’ve met others with sarcoma, and their family and friends do this race for them as well.”

Registration may be made online at www.budsrun.org, or by filling out registration forms available at Carol Stream Village Hall, 500 N. Gary Ave., the Carol Stream Park District, 849 W. Lies Road, or Dick Pond Athletics, 26 W. 515 St. Charles Road #A, Carol Stream.

Registration fees are $30 per person ($35 on-site); $85 per family ($95 on-site); $5 for the 1K Fun Run for children ages 12 and under only and the “Budding Runner” event for those five and under.  

New this year is the team registration option with eligibility for additional awards and recognition. Teams may register by contacting race director Sharon Swanson at 630-466-0809.

There will be other surprises for the younger children, and participants will receive commemorative T-shirts. 

“There is something for everyone,” Swanson said. 

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