First Midwest Adopts Palos Half Marathon
As seen in The Regional News - September 30, 2010
by Kevin Olsen, Staff Reporter
When Palos Bank and Trust was closed by the FDIC and taken over by First Midwest Bank in August, the survival of the Palos Bank Southwest Half Marathon was in question.
All concerns are now alleviated after the new bank announced last week it will continue as the main sponsor of the annual race held down Route 83 on the first Sunday in May.
“We are so lucky to have them on board,” Race Director Mel Diab said. “They own 100 banks, but are really getting involved in the community in Palos Heights. It feels like a community bank.”
Race organizers met with officials from First Midwest Bank on Wednesday to unveil posters with the new logo and name of the race — the First Midwest Bank Southwest Half Marathon.
“It was absolutely necessary,” said race co-organizer Alderman Jeff Prestinario (1st Ward). “You need a major sponsor to make the race a go. I don’t know if the race would still be going on without a sponsor.”
Greg Paetow said the half marathon was one of the events he mentioned to First Midwest Bank as an opportunity for community support when Palos Bank was taken over. Paetow is the banking center president of the Palos Heights market after serving as CEO and president of Palos Bank and Trust. First Midwest reported to Paetow that the annual Palos Heights Chamber of Commerce Christmas party and the half marathon will continue to be sponsored as they have in the past.
An executive from First Midwest Bank is expected to compete in the next half marathon, Paetow said.
“I think it’s a great event for the community,” Paetow said. “We’re getting more and more people involved. I think it’s getting bigger and better.”
No significant differences are expected for the race, which will be held on May 1, 2011. The sponsorship is at the same level as before. The goal is to draw 2,000 runners for the fourth annual race, which would be a new high, Diab said. About 1,735 runners competed last year on the 13.1-mile route from Palos Heights City Hall to Archer Avenue and back on Route 83.
“They know what a great job the Paetow family had done in Palos Heights for 50 plus years,”
Diab said of First Midwest Bank. “I’m glad Greg is there to make the transition as smooth as possible.”
Registration is expected to be opened in October, Diab said. The half marathon committee will also start meeting on a monthly basis soon.
Prestinario said the committee is looking at adding more entertainment to next year’s race. Each of the six water tables throughout the route will have a “Holidays in Palos” theme decorated to look like various holidays. The committee will also explore hiring a band again to perform at the turnaround point at Archer Avenue to offer further motivation to the runners.
“It should be kind of neat for the runners to have some kind of entertainment,” Prestinario said.