Thousands expected for annual YWCA Evanston/North Shore event to run and walk in unity against racial hatred and violence at one of the largest events of its kind in the US
The 2023 Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate, presented by YWCA Evanston/North Shore (YWCA E/NS), will be held at Northwestern University’s Long Field on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 18. Now in its 23rd year, the Race consists of a 10k run and 5k run/walk, and is one of the largest events of its kind in the United States with over 4,000 participants annually. The event is held every year on Father’s Day to honor the legacy of Ricky Byrdsong, former Northwestern University men’s basketball coach and vice president of community affairs at Aon Corporation. All proceeds from the Race go toward YWCA E/NS’s work to promote racial justice and prevent violence through its Equity Institute and Violence Prevention programs.
“The elimination of racism is not only one of our mission pillars but also the result we seek from the programs and services we offer as an organization,” said YWCA E/NS CEO Cherese Ledet. “This race clearly shows unity across our communities. Thousands come together annually to support the impact of the YW’s programs and be a part of a movement that can propel our society to heights we have never imagined by working together. While we continue to see increased violence and inequities, it’s vital to leverage events like this that promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.”
Ricky Byrdsong’s family and friends launched the Race Against Hate in 2000, just one year after his tragic murder by a white supremacist while walking in his Skokie neighborhood with two of his young children. The shooter also wounded seven others and killed a Korean American graduate student in Indiana before taking his own life. Race Against Hate was entrusted to YWCA E/NS by the Byrdsong family in 2007 to honor Ricky’s legacy and bring attention to the need to combat hatred in all its forms.
“Every year at the Race, I look around and see people from all different kinds of races, ethnic backgrounds, and religions coming together. The message is that you can take an act of hate and transform that into love,” said Sherialyn Byrdsong, Ricky’s widow and founder of Race Against Hate. “That’s what people experience at the Race—the spirit of love. That’s what this event is all about. 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.”
YWCA E/NS is also hosting its annual pre-Race breakfast and discussion with Sherialyn Byrdsong on Thursday, June 15. This year’s discussion, “Impacting the Trajectory of Violence,” will be a conversation between YWCA E/NS CEO Cherese Ledet and Byrdsong where participants can attend in person or virtually. Ledet, who joined the organization in March of this year, will share her vision for the work ahead while exploring what violence prevention looks like at YWCA and in the communities it serves—including how we can work together to alter the course of the trends of domestic, hate-based, and gun violence.
Thermoflex is the presenting sponsor of this year’s Race and over 60 local businesses, schools, faith, and civic organizations are also supporting the event.
Individuals and teams can register online for the Race at https://secure.qgiv.com/event/raceagainsthate2023/ until 10:00 am on June 13, at packet pick-up events the week before, and on Race day in person at Floyd Long Field in Evanston on the Northwestern campus starting at 6:30 a.m.
About YWCA Evanston/North Shore
YWCA Evanston/North Shore, established in 1931, is a nonprofit organization that works to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, and strengthen local communities. It serves more than 8,000 people annually in northern Cook County through its Domestic Violence, Equity Institute, Economic Advancement, and Flying Fish Aquatics programs. Learn more at www.ywca-ens.org.