Over 5,400 runners and walkers participated in the YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s 16th annual Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate on Sunday, June 21st. Participants came to event from 22 states and 80 Illinois towns and cities.

“With this Race, we have found a silver lining in the dark cloud of hate that took my husband’s life when he was only 43 years old,” said Sherialyn Byrdsong, Ricky’s widow. “(But) as the horrific hate crime that took place in Charleston, SC last week reminds us, hate still has a home in too many hearts. We must never cease to communicate our message that no matter what color we are on the outside, no matter what our native tongue is, the fact that all of our blood is red proves that what is the very essence of life, we have in common.”

“Your presence here, today, in record numbers, sends a powerful message about our collective commitment to work together to eliminate racism, hate, and violence in our communities and make them a better and more equitable place for all,” remarked Karen Singer, YWCA Evanston/North Shore President and CEO. “And in light of the horrific tragedy that has occurred in Charleston, and the countless other daily racial injustices occurring throughout our country, we thank you for joining with us to make that commitment.”

This year’s race gave community members a chance to come together over the events in Charleston. Dozens of people wrote messages to send to the Charleston YWCA to share with the Charleston community, and participants signed a banner calling for social justice which now hangs in front of the YWCA.

Sherialyn Byrdsong, who was joined by her family on stage after the Race, concluded her remarks with a call for action. “I challenge each and every one of you to identify one thing, besides participating in this Race Against Hate, that you can do to make our nation a safer place to live for ALL Americans. Someone’s life may depend on it.”

Proceeds from the Race go directly towards the YWCA’s racial justice work in communities and violence prevention programming in schools throughout the North Shore. Learn more at www.ywca.org/evanston.



The top overall male finisher in the 5K was GEDION YITREF, who finished with a time of 16:08. BEN SCHMECKPEPER was second with 16:42, and SAM LEVON finished third with 17:25. The top three female finishers in the 5K were COLUMBA MONTES, 18:26, VERONICA LAUREANO, 18:57 and EMILY BARRECA, 19:25.

The top male masters’ finisher (over 40) was MIKE EGLE, 18:19. The top female masters’ finisher was DENISE HEINEN, 21:36. Top male finisher, 70 and over, was WILL VAN DYKE, 24:50 and the top female, PEGGY ADAMSON, 36:22.


The top overall male finisher in the 10K was EMISAEL FAVELA, 33:30, second was CHRISTOPHER SCHMIDT, 34:27, followed by ELPIDIO VILCHEZ, 35:42. The top three female finishers in the 10K were JILL WEINBERG, 39:41, ELISE TROPIANO, 41:01 and AMANDA WEIDNER, 42:32.

The top male masters’ finisher (over 40) was also awarded to ELPIDIO VILCHEZ, and the top female masters’ finisher was HEATHER MEHTA, 44:49. Top male finisher, 70 and over, was GREGORY NORWELL, 1:09:24 and top female, SUSAN WEININGER, 1:03:54.

Over 150 teams participated together in the Race this year. Evanston Running Club won fastest 10K team and fastest 5K was a tie between Evanston Cross Country Veterans and Chicago Road Runners. The largest team was Unitarian Church of Evanston “Black Lives Matter,” with Thresholds Thunder a close second.

Complete results can be found at www.mychicagoathlete.com. The 17th annual Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate will take place on June 19, 2016.


About the YWCA Evanston/North Shore

Dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, the YWCA Evanston/North Shore seeks to raise awareness of the issues of racial and gender equity and to affect real change in our communities. The YWCA Evanston/North Shore focuses on racial justice programming, domestic violence services, women’s economic empowerment and leadership, violence prevention programming, and empowerment through aquatics. Learn more at: www.ywca.org/evanston