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Spartans to shuffle Sunday for Sully

By Tara McManus

The 4th Annual Sully Shuffle 5K run and walk to raise money for Parkinson’s disease will be held Sunday at Oak Lawn Community High School.

The event will begin at 9 a.m. at the high school, 9400 Southwest Highway. The Sully Shuffle is named after Skip Sullivan, an Oak Lawn High School coach and retired teacher who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease eight years ago.

“He’s had such a great attitude about the disease and about life in general,” said Janet Haubenreiser, president of the Sully Shuffle Foundation and a former student and co-worker of Sullivan. “We wanted to give him some emotional support as we raised money for the cause. It’s about the disease. We wanted the community to be a part of it.”

The Sully Shuffle is a certified 5K run and an approximately 1K walk. Registration is $35 for the run, $30 for the walk and $15 for the mini-shuffle, the latter being a dash around the high school’s track for children 2 to 10 years old.

Online registration for the race is at sullyshuffle.org. Participants can register the day of the race beginning at 7:30 a.m.

A post party will be held at Homestead Barr, 9306 Central Ave. in Oak Lawn. The party will feature food including pizza donated by Grassano’s restaurant, and drinks including pop, wine and beer. Entrance is $30 a person. Person younger than 21 will be admitted free, but must come with their parents.

The party will also raffle off several prizes including a pair of tickets to the Chicago Bears game versus the Detroit Lions on Oct. 22 and a pair of tickets to the Bears-Seattle Seahawks game Dec. 2. Other prizes area “Rollin’ on the Boooooze Barge” prize pack featuring a 42-can rolling cooler, wine glasses, and an assortment of liquor; a party at Jack Desmond’s bar in Chicago Ridge with two hours of draft beer and pizza for 10; and two bean-bag sets, one with a Chicago Cubs theme and the other with a Chicago White Sox theme. Tickets to Cubs and Chicago Wolves games, gift cards from local businesses, wine tastings at Cooper’s Hawk, a spa gift basket, and a tool gift basket will also be raffled off.

The Sully Shuffle has in its three years raised more than $68,000 for the American Parkinson’s Disease Midwest Chapter. More than 300 runners and walkers participated last year and more than 150 attended the post party to help raise $23,000. Haubenreiser said their goal is to approach similar numbers this year.

“Oak Lawn is so supportive in putting the race together,” she said. “I love the race. It makes me feel so proud of the community, as well as the surrounding communities who come show support. I give a little talk to all the runners, thank them, then start the race. I could run it, but I think it’s more important to thank the participants.”

Sullivan taught at Oak Lawn High School for 34 years before retiring in 2006. He has coached girls basketball with Haubenreiser for the past 11 years, and was the head baseball coach for 14 years. He also coached football, boys basketball and boys golf, and served as the Spartans’ assistant athletic director for two years.

“Our basketball players have been so great with him,” Haubenreiser said. “They don’t think twice about helping him out, helping him with his jacket or opening a door. The people who plan the race at former students, co-workers, people he coached, family. They feel like he’s had a positive influence on his life.”

Sullivan still plays full-court basketball with his friends twice a week, and works out with his son, Mike, a personal trainer.

“There are some real points that have worked in my favor,” Sullivan said. “My friends, my wife Patti, my daughter Dana, Mike; they’ve all been there for me. It’s really important.

“Also, being an athlete. It’s taught me about never giving up and always having a good attitude. The clichés are all true. I make sure my friends don’t go easy on me. I feel more comfortable playing basketball than buttoning my shirt.”