Strides for Peace Press Releases


Resolution Press Release (PDF Version)

April 21, 2021

City Council to Vote on Resolution in Recognition of Strides for Peace’s Race Against Gun Violence

Contact: Mary Stonor Saunders, Executive Director
Phone: 773-326-5368
Email: [email protected]

CHICAGO (April 21, 2021) -- Alderman Ariel E. Reboyras will introduce a resolution to the City Council in support of the Strides for Peace’s 8th Annual Race Against Gun Violence (RAGV), September 23, 2021. Now in its eighth year, RAGV is much more than a single event but rather the culmination of months of collaboration and capacity building provided free of charge to nonprofits in Chicago who share the common goal of ending gun violence and saving lives.

Launched in 2014, RAGV has grown every year in every level. Even at the height of the pandemic, nearly 2,000 runners and walkers from 362 different zip codes and 30 states supported nonprofits by raising more than $150,0000. This demonstrated Strides for Peace’s unique capability to harness the power of community organizations and provide new pathways for people who care to get involved.

Strides for Peace and its nonprofit partners are planning a community launch in June to coincide with National Gun Violence Awareness Month and call attention to the urgent need to prevent gun violence especially during the summer months. Community-based peace walks will be hosted throughout the summer to amplify the “good news” stories, often unseen, taking place every day, as well as boost morale of those working on the front lines.

Following 2020 during which Chicago experienced more than 719 lives lost to gun violence - a more than 50-percent increase - the city continues to face skyrocketing homicide rates, with someone being shot less than every three hours and killed every fourteen.

“More than ever, community organizations need support to build peace and stop the violence. At the heart of the race is closing the gap between people, communities and organizations and offering something positive to do in the face of devastating headlines.” said Executive Director Mary Stonor Saunders.

Also central to the race is the goal of increasing capacity and promoting collaboration. More than 75 community and civic organizations are expected to participate in this year, ranging from gang intervention and youth development organizations like New Life Centers to the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, from legacy institutions like Chicago CRED to grassroots initiatives like Kids Off the Block.

“The collective effort from participating organizations and the diversity of the race participants shows the world that Chicago can come together to solve the problem of gun violence and save lives. We ALL have a stake in ending gun violence” Stonor Saunders stated.

To that end, Strides makes sure there is a race for every level of fitness and age, including USATF-certified 8k and 5k races along the lakefront, and a 2k walk and a Tots for Peace Sprint. Building on last year’s successful virtual event, participants can choose to complete the race virtually at a time and place of their choosing.

For more detailed information about Strides for Peace and the Race Against Gun Violence, go to


About Strides for Peace
Founded in 2014, Strides for Peace is a registered 501(3)(c) that envisions a Chicago where all can thrive and live free of the fear of gun violence. Our mission is to increase the collective impact of community organizations working to end gun violence, save lives and build a stronger Chicago.

Connect. Commit. Contribute. Change. Be part of building peace.

Download Press Release (PDF)

March 15, 2021

Strides for Peace Teams Up With Deputy Chief E. Cato & CPD Area Four Community Engagement & Support Community Organizations, Illinois Department of Public Health Taste for the Homeless & Power 92.3 Radio Personality “Hot Rod”

For a Community Pop-Up to bring Covid-19 supplies and testing, food, resources, music & LOVE to W. Garfield Park where health disparities & gun violence are most concentrated

WHEN: Saturday, 3/20, 12-2:00. SET UP: 11:00AM

WHERE: W. Madison St. and S. Springfield St. (Springfield will be shut down) in West Garfield Park

WHAT: Provide Household Covid-19 Care Kits, cafe meals, food, music, blankets, face masks, coats, info re: community resources and survivor support. IDPH Covid-19 Mobile Testing Unit will provide free Covid-19 testing and Hot Rod will provide music from the beloved Peace Mobile!

WHO: Strides for Peace, CPD Area 4 Community Engagement and Support (Deputy Chief Cato and Sgt Jermaine Harris), Chicago Public Library, BUILD, The BASE - Chicago, HotRod, IDPH, Marianos, Paving the Way, Purpose Over Pain, Taste for the Homeless, Institute of Nonviolence.

WHY: The community pop-up brings resources and love to a block in Chicago that has struggled with opioid abuse, violence, health disparities and a lack of positive alternatives, health care and social support.

The initial idea to have a community pop-up on Madison Street was the brainchild of Pamela Bosley, founder of Purpose Over Pain and Violence Prevention Director at St. Sabina, who grew up in the area and wanted to show the community some love last summer when gun violence was escalating in the area. 

While a street festival was not possible at the time due to the pandemic, Strides for Peace Executive Director Mary Stonor Saunders loved the idea, especially as she had Covid-19 Care Kits (sourced and donated by the Craig Leva/Leva Foundation who used his chocolate manufacturing facilities, Longrove and Arway Confections, to produce the kits) to distribute to communities where the need is the greatest.  Months later, when Stonor Saunders connected to Deputy Chief Cato at a community holiday event, she shared the idea with Cato who offered to have his ACES Team (Sgt Jermain Harris) help with logistics to bring the idea to life.  

Inviting members of the Strides for Peace and local community to join, the Pop-Up has grown to include community organizations and friends in West Garfield Park and beyond, a testament to the belief that we are stronger together, and we all have a stake in a building a city where all can thrive.

About Strides for Peace: Founded in 2014, Strides for Peace envisions a Chicago where all can live and thrive, free from the fear of gun violence and whose mission is mission to increase the collective impact of organizations working to end gun violence in Chicago. In addition to programs to support community organizations and provide a platform to bring people together who want to be part of building peace, Strides for Peace produces the annual Race Against Gun Violence that raises funds and awareness for more than 50 nonprofits throughout Chicago.

Registration Open Press Release, Jan. 2021 (PDF)

February 10, 2021

Strides For Peace Announces 8th Annual Race Against Gun Violence To Bring Chicago Together and Support Community Organizations Serving on the Frontlines of Three Pandemics

Contact: Mary Stonor Saunders, Executive Director
Phone: 773-326-5368
Email: [email protected]

CHICAGO (February 1, 2021) -- In the midst of uncertainty and hardship brought on by the pandemic and a city struggling with escalating gun violence, Strides For Peace announces the launch of its 8th Annual Race Against Gun Violence (RAGV) to support more than 50 community organizations across Chicago and provide an opportunity for people who want to help to get involved.

As Mary Stonor Saunders, Strides for Peace Executive Director states,“Community organizations have stepped up and worked tirelessly at the intersection of three pandemics -- COVID-19, racial inequity and gun violence! They have literally saved lives. They need our support more than ever, and more than even people throughout Chicago want to help make our city better.” 

At the heart of RAGV is the belief that we all have a stake in ending gun violence, and that everyone can play a part.  That is why RAGV convenes a broad range of individuals and stakeholders including nonprofit organizations, the business community, and Civic Partners including the Mayor’s Office, Senator Dick Durbin, the Wu Tang Foundation, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, the UChicago Crime Lab, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Negaunee Music Institute to name a few.

Following a year in which Chicago was devastated by a 55-percent increase in gun violence, the 2021 RAGV offers multiple ways for people to get involved and learn about and connect to community organizations saving and changing lives throughout Chicago. 100% of fundraising proceeds from the race benefit nonprofit organizations working to end gun violence in Chicago. 

After moving the race to virtual last year, RAGV returns to Grant Park and the lakefront where 2,500 runners and walkers are expected to participate. A virtual option will still be available to those who are unable to attend and continue to provide an opportunity to people across the country to be part of building peace.

“People are eager to come together and connect to a common cause, across a diverse range of lived experiences,” Stonor Saunders stated. “Our beautiful location and USATF-certified course are a real draw, but the biggest driver is that in this time of isolation, people crave community, and want to be part of something bigger than themselves.”  

As Chicago’s largest athletic event devoted to ending gun violence, RAGV offers USATF-certified 8k and 5k races along the lakefront, a 2-mile walk, and a Tots For Peace Sprint. RAGV continues to grow, drawing support from a range of communities, professions, neighborhoods and ages. In 2020, nearly 2,000 runners and walkers from 362 different zip codes and 30 states supported the more than 50 participating nonprofits by raising more than $150,0000.  

But more than a single event, RAGV is a dynamic platform for fostering collaboration among, and building capacity within, nonprofits committed to changing and saving lives. Last year’s virtual race served as a launch pad for the Choose Hope and Why I Run film series, which opened new paths for people to connect to communities despite the pandemic, by transporting viewers to the frontlines of the communities facing the greatest challenges.

Early registration is open now and in June we will launch our Choose Hope Community Campaign  in honor of National Gun Violence Awareness Month and Wear Orange Day to increase awareness not only of our problems, but the incredible people and organizations working to solve them.

To register for the race and for more detailed information, go to