The world of charity running is getting a big name to add to its roster. Chicago Bears star running back Matt Forte and his newly established charity have partnered with the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle for a team in this year’s race. The Matt Forte Foundation’s Run For Our Future will be supporting children throughout the Chicagoland area by helping them receive scholarships for continued schooling after high school.
“I first pitched something to do with running,” Forte said. “A lot of people know I run hills in the offseason like Walter Payton did. We came up with the idea that it work to do something with races. With the Shamrock Shuffle being such a big race, we were lucky enough to have them let me tag along.”
Runners who join Forte’s team will be helping a number of schools and programs in the area. Students at the Mercy Home, Percy Julian High School, Chicago Vocational Career Academy and Ombudsmen Educational Services will all be receiving aid from the running back and his charity. Forte is already the spokesman for Mercy Home, one of the largest and oldest organizations for homeless youth in Chicago. Just since becoming a spokesman and the launch of his foundation Forte has donated computers to the study lab, supported fundraisers, invited students to Bears’ games and a number of experiences they would have otherwise missed out on.
Forte said he hopes to build a team of 500 runners who can each raise $200 in support. Runners who sign up and raise at least $22, Forte’s number with the bears, by noon on Wednesday March 12 will have the chance to meet the NFL star and participate in a fun run. Additional prizes and memorabilia will be given away to team members who continue to raise money for the foundation in leading up to the race. Top fundraisers will even be invited to a meet and greet dinner with the running back. Forte said he will also be in attendance at packet pick-up as runners gear up and at the race itself, although he won’t be running so any Bears fans can take a sigh of relief not having to worry about a rogue Packer fan trying to trip him up.
Forte’s interest in supporting Chicago’s children comes with the knowledge of the ever growing high school drop-out rate and the link to crime. Forte said that if his foundation can help kids stay in school and continue on with secondary education of any kind it would help everyone. With the scholarships created by fundraising students will have to opportunity to go on to a university, culinary school, trade school or any other continued education. Forte, who has worked with the Bears on various charities in the past, said he wanted to make sure his charity would be something that helped the community.
“It took me a while, I’ve been in the NFL six years going on seven,” Forte said. “I wanted to pick something that was really going to impact the community. The drop-out rate is really high and adding to the crime-rate. I do stuff to inspire and encourage kids, there aren’t a lot of positive male role models out there so I figured what better way to give back to the community than helping out the youth.”
Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle Race Director Carey Pinkowski said he is excited to work with Forte going forward. The spring race for years has been looked at as the kick-off to the running season in Chicago, and often a way for charities to start up their yearly fundraising.
“We are thrilled to have Matt involved this year. The work he’s doing with trade schools and everything is great,” Pinkowski said. “He’s such an iconic athlete in Chicago, this is just an example of the partnership that can do so well.”
Forte said he plans on keeping his fundraising active, especially throughout the off-season which lines up perfectly for much of Chicago’s running and endurance sports season. In addition to running events he said that he is working on bringing in some of his Bears teammates for a special sporting event of a different kind. Forte said he is working with the Schaumburg Boomers on a charity home-run derby between he and some of his teammates. While they are all great athletes, some like offensive lineman Kyle Long who was drafted by the White Sox have a much stronger baseball history. However, Forte said he would have some fun with his teammate and remind him that he’s a lineman now and not a pitcher.
Anyone who plans on running the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle can join Forte’s team. For more information on the Matt Forte Foundation and the A Run For Our Future team can visit the race’s official charity team page by clicking here.