Dominican University will sponsor the 35th annual Frank Lloyd Wright Races, Sunday, Oct. 28, to market the school and support one of Oak Park’s historical figures—Frank Lloyd Wright.
Dominican has been a sponsor for the Frank Lloyd Wright Races since 2006. In 2008 Dominican built a team of participants and has since continued to sponsor the races as a way to promote the school and foster community.
According to Jessica Mackinnon, Director of Public Information at Dominican, with 25,000 participants from all over the states, Dominican uses this event to get its name out there.
“We also do it because it’s a great community partnership,” said Mackinnon, “the Frank Lloyd Wright image in Oak Park is huge…we’re known primarily for two things Frank Lloyd Wright and Ernest Hemingway so it was a nice way for us to align with the park district to present this race.”
Last year the Dominican participants sported bright yellow t-shirts embedded with the Dominican name and logo; this year royal blue t-shirts will be given away to Dominican participants.
“Dominican participants all have their t-shirt on, they take a big group picture—they’re out there and they get a lot of exposure,” Diane Stanke, Manager of Communications in the park district of Oak Park, said. “One of the things that we’ve tried to help through our partnership is to promote Dominican’s graduate studies because there’s a demographic that it appeals to,” Stanke added.
Dominican will have a promotional booth set up at the races. Participants and community members will be able to pick up school brochures and information on undergraduate and graduate information session dates.
“It’s a win-win situation for both of us. Dominican gets a lot of benefits from their involvement and so do we,” Stanke said.
According to Stanke, the promotion of the races draws participants into town and creates an “economic engine” for Oak Park-River Forest, generating revenue for businesses.
The first dozen runners to cross the finish line in each race will receive a pair of free Dominican socks. “We’ve developed a reputation, the front runners all know we’re going to be at the end of the race with socks and they all reach out for the socks,” Mackinnon said.
This year the Alumni Office is sponsoring 15 participants and the Dean of Students and Student Involvement is sponsoring 10 participants, Mackinnon said. In addition, 22 participants are running free of charge because of the university’s sponsorship in the race. Several other students were able to register at a discounted price. Mackinnon estimates about 100 Dominican participants composed of faculty, staff and students will participate in Sunday’s race.
Nadya Vezenkiva, an international undergraduate student at Dominican, chose to participate on the Dominican team after she received an email about it from the Office of Marketing and Communication. “This is my first race, I’m planning to do the half marathon in May and the full marathon next October,” Vezenkiva said. “This race will be my start.”
Frank Lloyd Wright Races feature three different races: a 5K run/walk, a 10K run, and a Youth Mile for ages 7-1. Most of the races travel through some of the historical houses of Frank Lloyd Wright, which is how it got its title.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Races have been doing financially well according to Mackinnon and Stanke. This year marks the third consecutive year the races have sold out.
– Jonathan Salamanca, Staff Writer