Arriving to the Chicago venue, the fields were dewy, and the sun hadn’t peeked out yet. The KOC Team was dreaming of sleeping in and eating a home-cooked breakfast. In reality, we rolled out of the car and put on our sunscreen and bug spray, distributed radios, and started popping-up tents.
“I’m here! Where do I load-in?”
“Is it okay if I leave my truck parked here?”
“I forgot sandbags for my tent. Do you have extra?”
“The inflatable arch pump just died. Do we have an extra one?”
“People are arriving early; can we turn on the music?”
Vendors started arriving! Then, participants and their families started arriving! Our caffeine was kicking in and the event took off!
The Sensory Garden Playground was the smallest space we’ve had for a Festival Area thus far, and it felt like a party! With 12 vendors joining us, attendees had booths to visit all day. CLIF Bar, Rainier Fruit, Noodles & Company, and Hubert’s Lemonade provided free samples. In addition, HelloFresh, Passanante’s Home Food Services, Renewal by Andersen, Chiro One Wellness Centers, and Naperville Running were there to spread information about their products. Kona Ice and Sausage Fest Food Truck also joined us. The most interactive vendor was WickedBall! Kiddos climbed inside giant inflatable balls and ran into each other while trying to score a goal on the other team. It was very entertaining to watch!
This course had a handful of nature-made obstacles! We were positioned at the South tip of Danada Park which is part of DuPage County Forest Preserve. Participants started off running through baseball outfields, along a wooded tree line, through the forest of Danada Park, and around the Sensory Garden Playground For All. Throughout the course, we weaved kids and their families in and out of Evergreen and Maple trees and over every hill we could find.
After conquering the course, kiddos received their well-deserved medals and rinsed off the gobs of mud. Returning to their car, I overheard a kiddo say, “Mom, did you see me climb over that wall? I did it all by myself! I am SO proud of myself! Can I bring my medal to camp and show my friends?”
That is exactly what makes those early mornings worth it.
-Amelia Pokorny, Event Director