EVANSTON, Ill. - In the wake of the Orlando massacre, the annual Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate is taking on new significance.
Eileen Heineman with the Evanston YWCA says it's unfortunate to have events that remind us why the race is necessary. "With the killings that happened last Sunday in Orlando, a homophobic attack and then as a nation we quickly jump on Islamophobia about the shooter, our work is to say to people we have to understand and get past the differences because we are so much more alike than we are different."
This is the 17th year of the Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate.
It honors the memory of Ricky Byrdsong, the first African American men's basketball coach at Northwestern University.
In 1999, he was shot and killed by a white supremacist.
Since then, the race has sought to bring people together in the spirit of love rather than division.
It's a message that echoes even louder just one week after the terror attack in Orlando.
Proceeds from the race got to the YWCA of Evanston's violence prevention and racial equality programs.
The Byrdsong family has also established a foundation to combat hate. They take their message to schools and community groups across the country.
More than 5,000 people are expected to participate in today's race . The 10k starts at 7:30 a.m. The 5k walk/run starts at 7:45 a.m. and the youth races start at 9:00 a.m.