MINOOKA – Minooka’s Christopher Kauzlaric has always been a physical kind of guy. He loves to bike, run and swim.
As a pilot for United Express, Kauzlaric is all over the world and incorporates his physical training into his trips. He’s run in cities from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, to Austin, Texas. He’s trained in Bangkok, Thailand, and through the Red Rocks in Denver. He even climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.
On Sunday, Kauzlaric used his talent to support a cause by participating in the Madison, Wis., Ironman to benefit Crisis Line of Will and Grundy counties. The money Kauzlaric raised will go to the Ron Shain Memorial Fund.
Shain was a good friend and co-worker of Kauzlaric’s. He committed suicide less than two years ago.
In the midst of tragedy, Shain’s family and friends have joined together to raise awareness and support for suicide counseling and prevention.
“I, too, am joining that effort by raising money in his memory in order to help other individuals and families who need your support so that they know they are not alone and that there is help available to them,” Kauzlaric wrote for a flier to help the cause. “In fact, it is often only a phone call away.”
Scott Lemke, a friend and neighbor of Kauzlaric, used his graphic design background to create a custom racing tri-suit for Kauzlaric to wear during the race. It has the logos of Crisis Line, United Way and sponsor First Midwest Bank.
Another friend in Kansas City hosted several concerts with her band to help achieve the financial goal.
“Friends and family [of Shain’s] pulled together to make a difference,” Kauzlaric said. “Everyone is using their skills to get the word out.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 38,364 suicides were reported during 2010, the most recent statistics available. During that same year, someone in the U.S. died by suicide every 13.7 seconds.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for Americans.
Crisis Line of Will and Grundy counties offers information and referral, telephone counseling, reassurance calls, suicide/emergency services and suicide prevention and intervention workshops (www.crisisline247.org).
The Ron Shain Memorial Fund will help benefit these programs.
“I want this fund to be a beacon of hope and if just a few people are helped by the message and the funds raised then it is a victory for me and those involved,” Kauzlaric said.
The goal for the Ironman fundraiser was to raise $5,000 by Sept. 8, he said.
“It’s a lofty goal,” Kauzlaric said. “But this is more of a personal quest. To do something like this is a total commitment. It’s helping me as I am helping other people.”
The last week of August, Kauzlaric forced himself through a difficult week of training. He ran 21.2 miles along the I & M Canal trail and rode 100 miles on his bike from Minooka to Marseilles, Newark, Morris and the surrounding area.
“Those both required ice baths and lots of sleep and nutrition to recover quickly,” he said.
The personal commitment is well worth it, if it helps other people, Kauzlaric said.
“[Crisis Line] is an organization people don’t know about,” he said. “People [need to] realize they have more tools at their fingertips and there’s a program they can take advantage of, so they can make different choices.”
To donate to the Ron Shain Memorial Fund, go to willfinduhelp.org/index.php/contact-us/donate and find it under “fundraiser support.”