Annual 5K provides Guthrie with way to help others, remember wife

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REALTOR® Mark Guthrie (back row, second from right) and other family members in front of the Annawan Community Center. Front row (l to r) are: daughter Sara (Guthrie) Parent; granddaughters Symone and Sasha Parent; daughter Susan (Guthrie) Mercier; and grandson Timothee Mercier. Back row: son-in-law Patrick and daughter Stephanie (Guthrie) Boilini; Lauren Dynes, Annawan Community Center Recreation Coordinator; Annawan Mayor Tim Wells; Guthrie; and son-in-law Dave Mercier. Son-in-law Marcus Parent was unable to attend.

“I come from a relatively small home town where community involvement and giving back is very important,” says Kewanee-area REALTOR® Mark Guthrie. So, to hear that he has been involved in a number of charitable endeavors during his adult life is not surprising.

Guthrie grew up on a family farm north of Annawan, about 12 miles from Kewanee, starting an auctioneering career in 1986. On numerous occasions, he has donated those auctioneering talents to charitable causes, such as fundraisers for area school districts, his church and for people in need.

“I’m always glad to help out anyone in need by offering my services at no charge,” he says.

But starting in 2004, Guthrie and his family experienced numerous changes that still reverberate today. First, his wife Carol was diagnosed with breast cancer, which led to her juggling numerous doctor’s visits and treatments in between her usual responsibilities. The couple and their three daughters (Sara, Susan and Stephanie) became involved in local fundraising activities for cancer research, including an American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event for Henry and Stark counties. In 2006, Mark earned his real estate license, became an Illinois REALTOR® and joined the Mel Foster Co. in Kewanee. Then, in December 2008 Carol lost her battle and died.

In his wife’s memory, Mark came up with the idea to hold an annual 5K road race, and the first year, 100 runners participated, with the proceeds donated to the Relay for Life. The “Carol M. Guthrie Memorial 5K Run/Walk” continues to be an annual event that helps local charities and families in need.

“The race has grown every year,” says Guthrie, noting 300 runners last year. “The proceeds have ranged from about $3,000 the first year to approximately $13,000. Last year, we gave $6,000 to the Annawan Community Center for landscaping. In each of the two previous years, we gave proceeds to a family in need.”

Planning for the annual event usually begins in January and is held in early June. Guthrie says colleagues have been very helpful with the race, providing support through donations and by volunteering. His daughters handle the advertising and the organization of the 5K.

“My wife and I enjoyed walking and running together before she got sick,” says Guthrie, who will soon start work on the ninth annual event. “I thought the 5K would be a great way to honor her and keep her spirit alive.

“She was a true fighter and never gave up. Cancer didn’t stop her,” Guthrie says. “She continued to work every day and take care of things. I can still see her sitting in a chair, working on a sale bill while having a chemo treatment. When our children and grandchildren would visit, she would take care of them and put smiles on their faces.”

In addition to the keeping the memories of her fresh in his mind and helping others with the proceeds, he wants to keep the annual event growing. He says: “It gives me a good feeling to have family, friends and the community come together every year for this project.”

Guthrie is a member of the Mid-Valley Association of REALTORS®, the Illinois REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS®.

Officers for Mid-Valley are: Mary Jo Gibson, President (Mel Foster Company, Kewanee); Will Sagmoen, Vice President (Arrow Real Estate, Kewanee); and Nancy Sutton, Treasurer (Century 21 Sutton & Associates, Kewanee). Bunne Baum is the Association Executive.

Read the Illinois REALTORS® blog for weekly stories about the community involvement of Illinois REALTORS® during the association’s 100th anniversary year. If you have an idea for a REALTOR® to highlight with an article, please send it to: bkozar@illinoisrealtors.orgTo read more stories like this one, go to: http://www.illinoisrealtor.org/membermonday #MemberMonday #IAR100yearsstrong

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