Park Ridge firefighter dedicates marathon run to Red Cross
By JENNIFER JOHNSON firstname.lastname@example.org | @Jen_Pioneer September 21, 2013 10:15PM
Park Ridge firefighter Jeff Laube is running the 2013 Chicago Marathon and raising money for the American Red Cross. | Contributed photo
Updated: October 3, 2013 6:16PM
Jeff Laube’s first interaction with the American Red Cross came during his time with the U.S. Army.
While stationed in Hawaii during the late 1990s, Laube’s father suffered a heart attack. It was the American Red Cross, Laube said, that sent word to him and paid for his flight home so he could immediately be with his family.
“That’s when I made the connection that they are a big helper for the military and military families, especially the guys who are overseas or in combat zones,” Laube said.
Now a Park Ridge firefighter, the 35-year-old’s appreciation for the Red Cross was reignited earlier this year when tornadoes tore through parts of Oklahoma, leaving many with needs that only the Red Cross was able to meet.
“I put myself in their shoes,” Laube said. “How would I feel? I’d want someone to help me out. Even though I’m a thousand miles away, I felt I had to do something.”
So Laube, of Plainfield, decided to use his participation in this year’s Chicago Marathon as a springboard to raise money for the American Red Cross. He’s hoping to raise at least $1,000 and, with just a few weeks to go until the Oct. 13 event, is within $150 of his goal.
This will be Laube’s third year running the Chicago Marathon, an initiative he was encouraged to take on at the urging of members of his church, Westbrook Christian Church in Bolingbrook. During the first two years, he ran to raise money for World Vision, a Christian-based organization which sponsors children in impoverished countries and is supported by Westbrook Church.
“There’s so many different charities that I try to find an emotional connection for each one (I raise money for),” Laube explained.
The best part of running in the marathon, he says, is getting to know other runners.
“One of the big reasons I run the marathon is to meet people and hear the obstacles they overcome,” Laube said.
Last year, Laube’s biggest inspiration to keep running was Lopez Lomong. Lomong, known as one of Sudan’s Lost Boys, was kidnapped to become a child soldier, escaped his captors and fled to a refugee camp where he became an excellent runner by running roughly 18 miles each day around the camp. Lomong came to the U.S. as a teenager and carried the flag for the U.S. Olympic team during the 2008 games.
Laube had read Lomong’s memoir, “Running for My Life,” and had the chance to meet the athlete last year.
“I was star-struck,” Laube admitted. “And usually that never happens to me, but this guy had done so much. He turned his whole life around.”
In addition to reaching his fundraising goal, Laube has a personal goal: to run the Chicago Marathon in less than four hours, beating his times in prior years.
Training can be rough, but Laube says remembering the charity for which he is running — and how it has helped him in his own life — helps.
“That keeps me going when it gets too hard, which it does,” he said.
To donate to Laube’s marathon run, visit http://crowdrise.com/redcrosschicago2013/fundraiser/jefflaube.