Proud to Run, Chicago's original and only Pride race, is celebrating it's 35th race this year on June 25. With 2015's participants starting at 3 years old and ranging up to 79 and, Proud to Run really is a race for anyone and everyone. People are traveling from sea to shining sea and beyond! Proud to Runners have come from California to New York and Michigan to Florida. And, outside our borders from Sweden, Spain, Australia, and Canada. The impactful experience of Proud to Run is universal.

Proud to Run started in 1982 with only 40 runners/walkers and has grown to over 1700 participants with a goal of breaking 2000 this year! Born out of Chicago Metropolitan Sports Authority and then helping to create Chicago's own Frontrunners/Frontwalkers, Proud to Run has helped contribute to the ever growing landscape of LGBT athletes in the city. The organization focuses on celebrating Pride weekend in an active way while also helping to raise funds for the greater Chicago area LGBTQ community.

In the past 35 years, Proud to Run has helped raise almost half a million dollars worth of funds for a variety of local LGBTQ organizations. These organizations have focuses ranging from Housing, HIV Testing and Prevention, Trans Resources, Youth Resources, LGBTQ homelessness, Educational Programming, LGBTQ Culture, and many more. The funds raised come from registration fees, sponsorships, and individual donations.

Proud to Run strives to remain topical in the needs of the community. In the midst of the HIV epidemic in the 80s and early 90's, Proud to Run directed their funds raised to HIV/AIDS research and support. The early 2000s saw attention to education and furthering LGBTQ visibility. Currently, Proud to Run wants to continue the national conversation on Transgender rights.

In an effort to be more welcoming to all, regardless of gender identity, this year Proud to Run added a third gender category to their race registration. While in the past, gender identity options were limited to Trans/Cis-Male and Trans/Cis-Female, this year they've added a "Non-Binary" option. While the Proud to Run board acknowledges that this isn't the last step, and that the issue is so much larger than simply adding a third category, they wanted to be as inclusive as possible in the registration process.

For Proud to Run, Race Day is more than simply running the race. It's about community. The race culminates with live shows, award presentation, and an expansive Athlete's Village with community group representation. But at the end of it all, it's about making personal and community connections. The energy felt is like no other Pride event.

This year, Proud to Run wants you to be one of their 2000 participants. They want you there to cross the finish line, to cheer on the runners, to help continue supporting our community. Head to the registration page to join Proud to Run on June 25th. If you can't make it, visit their donations page to still be a part of Chicago's original Pride race. As always, Run Proud.

To see more about Proud to Run's mission and beneficiaries this year, check out