End of the run: Bonfield Express 5K discontinued in Downers Grove

Local residents will need to find another way to burn calories before their Thanksgiving feasts as the Bonfield Express Foundation announced this month it will discontinue the popular holiday 5K race in Downers Grove.

After 17 years, the organization has decided to end the 5K race. The race is named for Jim Bonfield, a former dean, coach, teacher and father who taught at Downers Grove South High School for 32 years. Bonfield died in 2003 due to complications from rheumatoid arthritis, leukemia and Hodgkin’s disease.

The first race was in 2004, attracting 500 participants. The race grew throughout the years and in recent years it has drawn more than 6,000 participants, organizers said. In 2020 the race was offered as a virtual event due to COVID-19.

In a statement, foundation President Annette Bonfield said, “On behalf of my family and the entire Bonfield Express Foundation, I want to thank the village of Downers Grove, our wonderful race sponsors, donors and volunteers. But most of all, thank you to the race runners and walkers who came out each Thanksgiving morning in support of Jim and our entire community to generate scholarship and educational funding.”

During the past 17 years, the Bonfield Express Foundation has distributed $966,500 in scholarships to 319 west suburban seniors from Downers Grove North, Downers Grove South, Hinsdale Central, Hinsdale South, Lisle and Westmont high schools. Additionally it has provided funding to local elementary school districts, nonprofit organizations and special education students. In recent years the foundation began offering grants to elementary school students in Downers Grove and Woodridge schools.

Foundation Treasurer Dan Cozzo said there is sufficient funding to continue to offer scholarships and educational grants to local students for several years.

Race Director Will Kupisch said, “The Bonfield Express 5K will always hold a very special place in our hearts. Like my dear friend Jim Bonfield himself, its legacy will always be advocacy for students and future generations will know it for its character, commitment and community.”