Get to Know Team Salvation Army

Oct 8, 2021

When thousands of runners step up to the start line this Sunday for the 2021 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, seven of those runners will be on a special mission. In addition to the impressive feat of running 26.2 miles, the members of Team Salvation Army will also be raising funds to relieve hunger, provide shelter, combat addiction, prevent evictions, nurture children, and more to help our neighbors in need.

Let’s meet these special folks who are #RunningtheMostGood to support The Salvation Army in Doing the Most Good. Join the effort by supporting our runners financially or by gathering at our cheer station on the southeast corner of W. Adams St. and S. Laflin St. on race day. Go, Team Salvation Army!

 

Damali Chandler

When not running, I: work in the finance department at DHQ! [The Salvation Army’s Metropolitan Division headquarters] I am also a dedicated parent to three pets: Gemma, Cesar, and Shinobi.

I’m being cheered on by: My family, my sister, niece, and nephew will be cheering me on.

Marathons I’ve run before: 1

Favorite song(s) to motivate me while I’m running: The Avalanches’ “Because I’m Me”

Meal I’m most looking forward to eating after the race: A large extra cheese and vegetable pizza

Favorite Salvation Army program: Nicor Gas Sharing Program

Why I joined Team Salvation Army: It has been a longtime goal to run in the marathon, and as an employee of The Salvation Army I see the great works that are created by charitable giving. This would give me a chance to fulfill a goal and be a part of good works in the process.

 

Joel Paez

When I’m not running, I: serve as the Program Manager for The Salvation Army’s Partner Abuse Intervention Program (PAIP)

I’m being cheered on by: I have the support of my wife, Julia, and son, Jimmy. My sister, Margarita, and her husband, Miguel. Family in Venezuela, Texas, Puerto Rico, and native city San Cristobal. I have a great support from my training group from Chicago Area Association ... the power of the group! My present and past PAIP co-facilitators and friends. I'm also running in memory of my oldest brother who is with the Lord since May 3, 2021.

Marathons I’ve run before: My first marathon was in 2005! About ten+ since then. Best way to celebrate my birthday! Best way to celebrate how God keeps me running ahead (Philippians 3:13-14).

Favorite song(s) to motivate me while I’m running: Queen’s “We Are the Champions”!!!

Meal I’m most looking forward to eating after the race: A very delicious soup from my wife Julia!!!!

Favorite Salvation Army program: PAIP!

Why I joined Team Salvation Army: I want to raise awareness about PAIP and its important intervention for perpetrators during Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October). PAIP intervention for perpetrators is part of the solution to eradicate domestic violence in our homes! PAIP is an educational program that helps perpetrators examine the forms of power and control they have used and the beliefs that support these abusive behaviors. They also experience accountability for their choices and learn skills that are necessary for healthy relationships.

I want to honor our co-facilitators Kimberly, Rebeca, Laurie, and Robert as well as all PAIP DHS professionals in Illinois. I also wanted to acknowledge all group participants that are giving themselves an opportunity to change their beliefs and behaviors.

 

Kerri Caruso

When I’m not running, I: Spend a lot of time with my husband, Neil, and pup, Cruz. We enjoy traveling and being with friends and family.

I’m being cheered on by: My husband, friends, and family coming in town for the race.

Marathons I’ve run before: I’ve run the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon 15 times, Columbus Marathon 3 times, and Marine Corps Marathon once. Chicago Marathon will be my 20th race.

Favorite song(s) to motivate me while I’m running: U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name,” Chase & Status’ “Alive,” and Led Zeppelin’s “In the Evening”

Meal I’m most looking forward to eating after the race: Pizza and ice-cold beer

Favorite Salvation Army program: Christmas assistance, veteran services

Why I joined Team Salvation Army: I will be running the 2021 Bank of America Chicago Marathon while supporting a great cause. The Salvation Army is near and dear to my heart and has always been a staple in my family. As kids, my sister and I benefited from the kind donations made by others for clothing, Christmas gifts, and food. My grandfather worked for The Salvation Army for 10 years at the Columbus, Ohio, branch to help displaced veterans find homes within their communities.

 

Kevin Romero (pictured on right)

When I’m not running, I: work for DuPage Medical Group

I’m being cheered on by: my husband, Philip, who’s running with me, and our dogs, Parker and Wickett

Marathons I’ve run before: 0

Why I joined Team Salvation Army: My husband is a member of The Salvation Army Advisory Board in TSA Metropolitan Division. Through him I’ve heard his firsthand account of the support provided to the community. The Salvation Army is a selfless organization, and we want to others to see that too. We see this as an opportunity to show the LGBTQ+ community that TSA supports everyone without discrimination. It will be great to do this together and give even more back to those in need.

 

Nick Nerwin

When I’m not running, I: Enjoy volunteering with The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) when the opportunity arises. I also enjoy being in the garden, watching English Premier League soccer (Tottenham Hotspur), going for walks with the family and dogs, and training for triathlons.

I’m being cheered on by: My wife, Laura, and 9-month-old daughter, Remi! Also my sisters, Amanda and Julie; mom, Laura; brother, Stevie; and dad, Gary. As well as many close friends. Could not do this without all of their support.

Marathons I’ve run before: 0

Favorite song(s) to motivate me while I’m running: "Grounds" by IDLES and "Creature Comfort" by Arcade Fire 

Meal I’m most looking forward to eating after the race: Taco Bell

Favorite Salvation Army program: Emergency Disaster Services

Why I joined Team Salvation Army: While volunteering with The Salvation Army’s EDS during the early days of the pandemic, I was introduced to what The Salvation Army offers our communities. We were packing lunches for homeless shelters, testing site volunteers, and first responders. The Salvation Army's logistical capabilities and community outreach during my experience proved impressive. Not to mention, everyone volunteering was kind, personable, and dedicated to their volunteer work.

I would like to carry on contributing to The Salvation Army's mission, and staying active and completing a milestone race at the same time is a wonderful opportunity. I am proud to be running my first marathon as part of Team Salvation Army.

 

Philip Maziarz (pictured on left)

When not running, I: work at Protiviti and like playing frisbee with my pups at the park

I’m being cheered on by: my husband, Kevin, who’s also running alongside me, my parents, and our two dogs, Parker and Wickett

Marathons I’ve run before: 1 trail marathon

Favorite song(s) to motivate me while I’m running: all the music associated with the Peloton outdoor marathon training program

Meal I’m most looking forward to eating after the race: Pizza!

Favorite Salvation Army program: Youth programs and the Kroc Center

Why I joined Team Salvation Army: As a member of The Salvation Army Advisory Board in the Metropolitan Division, I see firsthand the support provided to the community. The Salvation Army is a selfless organization and I want others to see that too. I see this as an opportunity to show the LGBTQ+ community that TSA supports everyone without discrimination. My husband is running as well and it's been an honor to raise money and show our collective support for all the work that TSA does for the LGBTQ+ and underrepresented communities.

 

Whitney

When I’m not running, I: am enjoying life! I spend a lot of time going to museums, plays, musicals, and comedy shows! I just moved back to the U.S. after living abroad for eight years, so I enjoy exploring the city and trying new foods!

I’m being cheered on by: my parents, my sister, my brother, my adorable 6-month-old nephew, my friends in Chicago and all over the world, and amazing people I connected with online!

Marathons I’ve run before: this is my first!

Favorite song(s) to motivate me while I’m running: Lots of gospel music or a funny Conan O’Brien podcast!

Meal I’m most looking forward to eating after the race: a pint of dairy-free ice cream!!!

Favorite Salvation Army program: Summer camp for kids. I worked at this program, and it was so much fun!! I still have so many fond memories of going to swimming lessons with the kids, having lunch, and playing games! After 15 years, I still remember so many of their names and faces!

Why I joined Team Salvation Army: During the pandemic, I started to volunteer more and I saw firsthand how much need there is in our communities. Times have been tough for everyone, and I feel a strong calling to not stand on the side but actively serve in my community. The Salvation Army has so many programs that address different needs and I’m happy to be a part of the team and positively impact lives!


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