Ian Fournie became friends with Alex Bronton while riding the same school bus to Barrington Middle School Station campus three years ago.
Alex has taught Ian a valuable lesson through their friendship.
“I learned that not everybody has it as easy as you might think,” the 14-year-old said. “The fact he can always be in a good mood despite of everything he is going through proves we should be in a good mood too and not be angry about the small things.”
Sixteen-year-old Alex was born with cerebral palsy. His condition means he has limited use of his limbs so he uses a wheelchair. He can communicate but it’s hard to understand him sometimes. Yet Ian can understand him just fine.
Alex “has it really tough everyday and he’s still happy everyday,” Ian said.
The friendship has also inspired Ian to organize the inugural Chili Dump 5K Run and Walk on Sunday, October 13. It will be held at Shady Hill Marina, 28710 W. Fox River Drive, Barrington.
Alex and Ian were both part of the same club in middle school where students became buddies with special education students. Ian is good at talking straight with Alex and understanding him, Ian’s mom, Dawn said.
Alex is a great kid, Dawn said. “He’s got an incredibly wicked sense of humor. He finds life hysterical. He’s a wild one.”
The friendship has touched others, too.
Dawn remembers talking to Alex’s mom about the boys’ friendship.
“She had tears, I could hear it in her voice,” Dawn said. “She was so amazed how Ian was with Alex.”
Ian’s friendship with Alex has inspired him to become a special education teacher. Ian is a freshman at Barrington High School and has begun looking into college programs.
Last year, Alex moved to Misericordia in Chicago. Misericordia is a home for the disabled where people can live for the rest of their life. His mother, Mary, had been looking into his long-term care and was able to place him in Misericordia.
The two teens have kept in contact and have been great friends, Dawn said. The Fournie family also goes to Misericordia’s Family Fest every year.
Ian decided to organize a 5k to benefit Misericordia. He knew he wanted to do something that would help Alex.
“Alex is a fun guy, he’s pretty funny. He’s always happy to see anybody,” Ian said. “He’s always laughing. He’s never in a bad mood.”
The Chili Dump 5k got its name after a neighborhood
Gathering in the Shady Hill neighborhood. The run is being held on the same day and runners are invited to bring some chili and participate in the chili dump.
The day will include raffle tickets and a silent auction with donated prizes like two passes to Goodman Theater and two passes to Steppenwolf Theatre Company, donated by ComEd, Chicago Bulls tickets and other items donated by Barrington businesses.
Originally, the idea was to have a small run since it’s the first year, but 5k has taken off, Dawn said. There seems to be a lot of people wanting to be a part of it for several reasons.
One reason is Alex is well known in the community. He grew up in Lake Barrington Shores. Another reason is Misericordia is a popular charity, Dawn said. And the idea of a kid helping another kid appeals to people, she said.
Ian runs cross-country for BHS. He can’t run in non-school sanctioned events so he won’t be able to participate in the 5k he’s organizing. Ian will be behind the scenes to make sure everything runs smoothly, she said.
He finds there are a lot of details in the planning. He knew he needed the basics _ a route, T-shirts and people_ but he didn’t know how many small things had to be in place too, he said.
His mom and dad, Rob, have done lots of work on the 5k, he said.
“I am very excited. I can’t wait to get people out there and see them running and having a great time and help Misericordia in the process,” Ian said.