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Druley: Spear’s trek reaching midway point

Published: Friday, July 12, 2013 5:31 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Photo provided)
St. Charles resident Steve Spear, 49, is running from Los Angeles to New York City in a bid to raise %1.5 million for his Running For Water effort, designed to provide clean water to a Kenyan village of 30,000.

St. Charles runner Steve Spear has accumulated many things on his cross-country journey from Los Angeles to New York City.

He’ll trade wear on his shoes and 49-year-old body for the time of church leaders and onlookers.

Spear isn’t averaging a marathon a day for kicks; he’s trying to raise $1.5 million to provide clean water to a Kenyan village. As his trek nears its midway point, Dick Pond Athletics wants to provide hometown support in return.

Dick Pond officials are planning a rally at 11 a.m. July 20 for Spear at the store on 303 N. 2nd St.

Three hours earlier, they’ll bus what they hope is a horde of athletes to run 15 miles with Spear into downtown St. Charles. Seven- and three-mile drop points also are planned.

“This way everybody of every kind of level could get a feel for what it’s like to run with a guy who’s running across the country,” store manager Glen Kamps said.

A former minister at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Spear launched his Running for Water campaign to promote awareness for clean water scarcity in Africa. He was especially stirred by the welfare of the people of Bartabwa, Kenya, after his meeting with a 7-year-old girl named Winnie.

He began his run on April 8, leaving from the Santa Monica (Calif.) Pier and proceeding onward to Los Angeles.

Spear has been a Dick Pond customer since breaking into running a few years ago. Although he might not be as seasoned as some of his fellow regulars, his dedication has gone unquestioned. Look no further than the itinerary of a 3,200-plus-mile trip.

Spear, who is partnering with a national organization called Team World Vision, does not run every day. He mixes appearances and fundraising trips into his journey, meeting with church leaders while other donations stream in by mail or online.

“When you’re trying to raise a million-and-a-half dollars, you’re not doing it with quarters and a jar,” Kamps said. “You’ve got to think big-time.”

As a result, Spear often runs more than the 26.2-mile marathon distance to keep pace. Per his Twitter account, @stevespear30, he logged his longest run July 3 with a 42-miler.

Moving along with the impending midwest heat wave, he completed separate 35-milers in 100-plus degree temperatures this week. Spear arrived in Oklahoma City in early June, days after a series of tornadoes ravaged the region.

Cost for the Dick Pond shuttle is $10, with all proceeds benefiting the Running for Water initiative. Food, street vendors and live music from Tony Sorrentino are planned, with the crown jewel of the event a meet-and-greet with Spear.

The rally is expected to end at 2 p.m., giving Spear time to prepare for a weekend of speaking engagements at Willow Creek.

He’ll resume his journey July 23.

“The cool thing to me is he’s a runner. He lives in St. Charles, Ill., of all places, and his journey has taken him down the main street of our town,” Kamps said. “We just wanted to pull him over, shake his hand and let him know that we’re with him.”

Kicking again: The Geneva soccer program is planning an alumni game for men and women at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Burgess Field. Those interested can contact Geneva boys coach Ryan Estabrook at restabrook@geneva304.org.

“We’d just like to get a connection with anyone who’s played Geneva soccer before,” Estabrook said.

One week later, on July 20, the current Vikings will get their turn when Geneva hosts an eight-team summer tournament from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Matches will be played on Burgess Field and the adjacent Center Street field. Other schools include Batavia, Kaneland and Wheaton Academy.

Cub and see: There’s a reason we titled our Cougars blog “Wrigley West” this season. The proximity of the parent Cubs means ailing players can rehab at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark while big-league executives check in on budding talent on the farm.

“I think it’s great. It’s so convenient for them. It’s something they can get to in less than an hour from the city and I think they really appreciate that convenience,” Cougars general manager Curtis Haug said. “There’s been quite a few different Cubs front office people out here so far this season and that’s great.

“We hope they keep coming out here and taking advantage of the opportunity that they have here, being so close.”

• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

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