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A Go West Mom You Should Know: Rachel Engelhardt of Push for the Path

This feature is brought to you by the generosity of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and its Family Fun Series, which features crafts, activities and music-making for children before the official concert even gets underway. The next concert in the series, on Sunday, April 29, at 2 p.m., is called "Through Sound-Colored Glasses: The Amazing Technicolor Orchestra."

Longtime Go West readers might be familiar with the name Rachel Engelhardt. The Yorkville resident is a member of the Mompreneur Directory (her business is called A Closet of Her Own), and when this site first launched, she graciously allowed me to run a few columns that initially ran on her own blog.

Rachel Engelhardt, a volunteer with Push for the Path, pictured here with her three children. Photo provided.But I so admire the passionate, grassroots nature of the Push for the Path project that Engelhardt is one of the lead organizers for that I just had to feature her as a Go West Mom You Should Know. The multi-use path in question is about 2.7 miles long, but it will link up to many miles of other paths and trails in northern Illinois, and volunteers like Engelhardt hope it could lead to a renaissance for downtown Yorkville.

Engelhardt lives in Yorkville with her husband Mitch -- in her words, "my high school sweetheart who is still my sweetheart" -- and their three children ages 6, 4 and 1. Read on to find out why Engelhardt is our latest Go West Mom You Should Know.

Q. Can you tell me about the Push for the Path organization? How did it get started, and what's the ultimate goal?

A. Push for the Path is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that was created to raise funds to build a 2.72 mile multi-use asphalt path parallel to Kennedy Road in Yorkville, from Route 47 to the existing trail just south of Mill Road in Yorkville.

The United City of Yorkville was awarded a nearly $1.4 million grant from the State of Illinois to fund the project; this is 80% of the cost. The Yorkville aldermen voted to accept the grant only on the condition that the city’s 20% portion of the cost be privately raised. Push for the Path was formed specifically to raise the city’s portion of the cost, which is $357,000; this amount is due in smaller installments over the course of six years.

The ultimate goal is to raise that $357,000 from private donations and fundraising events.  The group was initially formed by some friends and a family member of Darlene McCue, a Bristol resident who lost her life on July 5, 2009, when she was struck by a vehicle while she was bicycling along Kennedy Road with her stepdaughter. The group wants to ensure that a tragedy like this one does not happen again and also honor her memory by raising the funds needed to construct a safe path along Kennedy Road in Yorkville.

Our immediate goal is to raise $100,000 by July 5, 2012, and we are doing this via our “Power of One campaign” in which 100 people, groups, or businesses pledge to raise $1,000 by this date.

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