Erin's AAIM Race: Family and Friends Keep Memory and Inspiration Strong
The annual Erin's AAIM for Change 5K Run/Walk is just one way family and friends keep the memory of Erin Olmsted bright.
Erin Olmsted's death in a drunk driving accident left her friends and family in Orland Park and beyond devastated and in shock.
However 14 years later, thanks to the determination of her loved ones, Erin’s life did not simply fade into memory, but became a catalyst for inspiration, awareness and scholarship.
Erin’s Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM) for Change 5K Run/Walk is an annual event held to honor the former Sandburg High School student and star gymnast.
“After Erin’s death we received so many donations that we decided to give out scholarships to Sandburg students," said Gerry Olmsted, Erin's father. "When the fund started to run low after a few years, some friends advised us to find a way to keep the scholarships going. That’s when we decided to hold an annual race,”
Erin was months away from graduation with plans to attend college, so it seemed fitting to help others achieve this goal.
Organized by the Olmsted family and friends, the race raises proceeds to help fund college scholarships for high school students. A total of 32 students have benefitted from Erin E. Olmsted Scholarships since its inception 14 years ago.
“Last year we were able to award eight scholarships—five to Sandburg, and three to students from Plainfield East High School,” said Olmsted.
The race also benefits AAIM, a non-profit organization committed to helping drunk driving victims and their families. Erin’s sister, Kate, is an active supporter of AAIM and helps promote their cause by speaking at Victim Impact Panels at numerous area high schools, colleges and events.
The fifth Erin’s AAIM for Change 5K Run/Walk is scheduled for Sunday, September 18th at Centennial Park.
Usually held during Labor Day weekend, the Olmsteds decided to push the event a few weeks back. “We realized many people were busy celebrating the last weekend of the summer, plus we wanted to have a little bit more time to promote the event at Sandburg,” said Olmsted.
It doesn’t matter that many members of the incoming freshman class were not even born at the time of Erin’s accident. Today's Sandburg students know about her. Every year students learn of Erin's story and the upcoming 5K through assemblies at school. Her portrait hangs inside the school and posters of the event are prominently displayed. More importantly, friends of the Olmsted family are determined to keep her memory alive.
Sarah Snow and Megan Watson Balchunas, childhood friends of Erin, made a presentation last month at Sandburg’s Athletic Meeting. Speaking to hundreds of student-athletes and their parents, they came to promote the upcoming event and talk of the dangers of drunk driving, but also to inspire students to live their lives as Erin did.
What…Erin’s AAIM For Change
When…Sunday, September 18. Registration from 7:30 to 8:15 am. 5K Run Race starts at 8:30 am; Fun Walk at 8:35 am.
Where…Metra Station, northwest corner of Centennial Park, 10401 W 153rd Street, Orland Park
For online registration, information, directions or to make a donation, visit the website, www.erinsaamforchange.org