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Brock Krueger never met his grandmother, but the South Elgin teen grew up in a family marked by her death at the age of 54 from breast cancer.
His family's experience made him passionate about breast cancer awareness, a passion he's carried into his sophomore year at Marmion Academy.
Last year, Krueger and his family started setting up tents at his football games, selling T-shirts during breast cancer awareness month in October. Their efforts expanded this year with the formation of a committee at the all-boys school for the October push, which has included selling T-shirts, producing a pink cookbook, painting the football and soccer field lines pink, a Zumbathon, and on Sunday, a 5K race through Marmion's cross country course.
Almost 150 runners lined up for the inaugural Marmion 5K Run for the Pink, with proceeds going to Living Well Cancer Resource Center. The Geneva nonprofit opens its doors to families affected by cancer for support and educational services.
Crystal Krueger, Brock's mom, said her family drifted during her mother's illness and could have been helped had the center been available to them then.
"Instead of pulling together, we separated," she said.
All the proceeds from the October events go to Living Well. That was $4,500 last year, but Brock hopes it'll be more than $10,000 this year, and maybe even $25,000 next year.
Many of the runners in Sunday's race came dressed in pink.
Andrew Grahovec, a sophomore at Marmion from Yorkville, ran with a "Marmion Academy Salutes the Pink" T-shirt, a pink hat and pink arm bands. He finished in 21 minutes and is planning to do better next year.
"I like the course but I'm out of shape," Grahovec said.
Other runners showed up for more than the exercise, thinking of the mothers, grandmothers, wives and teachers they know who have battled breast cancer.
Danielle Duran, of Aurora, ran with her sister, Kendra Whittier of Milwaukee, in memory of their mother who died of breast cancer four years ago. The Marmion 5K was the first race of its kind they have joined, but the sisters plan to participate in the Susan G. Komen 60-mile, 3-day walk in Chicago in 2013.
"It's nice to see other people come out to support people who have been through it," Duran said. "If they have or know people who have — it's like a kindred spirit."