1998 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Abel Orelove, now a teacher living and working outside Chicago, Illinois, is giving back to those less fortunate and getting in shape at the same time.
“I wanted to run for a charity and Rock for Reading appealed to me for the obvious educational aspect,” Orelove said. “But also because 100% of the money goes to getting books in the hands of kids who need them most.”
Orelove is running in Sunday’s Chicago Marathon (for the second time) and raising money through Rock For Reading to buy books for children and communities most in need.
Donors will have their name or company written on Orelove’s marathon jersey.
“I know how much reading affected my life growing up,” Orelove said. “A lot of kids do not have the educational support I had in Juneau. It is hard to describe how I feel when seeing the look of joy a young child shares as he begins to understand the written word.”
Orelove’s donation site is www.active.com/donate/rockforreading/gomro.
“I am overwhelmed by the support I have received from my old classmates,” Orelove said.
After graduating from JDHS, Orelove earned a BA in telecommunication and worked in Chicago doing film and television production for a couple years including HGTV and a short stunt with The Jerry Springer Show.
Every summer he worked with school programs, including RALLY in Juneau.
“I found working with young people most rewarding,” Orelove stated.
In 2004 Orelove completed his master’s in teaching and another masters in school administration last year.
“I have always enjoyed school,” Orelove said. “I was inspired and supported by too many Juneau teachers to list.”
Two teachers that came to mind immediately were his 4th grade teacher, Shirley Campbell, and his high school history teacher, Les Morse.
“They always held the bar high and demanded that students surpass it,” Orelove said.
Although Orelove never played sports at JDHS he impresses his students with tales of trying to guard Carlos Boozer in gym class.
“They are very impressed since he is a big name on the Bulls here in Chicago,” Orelove said.
Orelove lettered in Journalism for the JDHS school paper, and played baseball, basketball, and soccer through the park district. Orelove did a senior project on radio broadcasting and was mentored by Jeff Brown. Brown also recruited Orelove to be master of ceremonies for the popular Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah family concert and preschool fund-raiser. The cast included favorites Julie Pigott and Jay Query performing children’s songs; Brown doing magic; preschool director Linda Torgerson and teacher Theresa Walden in a skit; and the Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah singers. Orelove stated he did not know what kind of humor preschool children enjoyed then but fell down a lot and had a couple “knock knock” jokes.
“My memories of JDHS include my close group of friends and the support of the Juneau community through our entire academic lives there,” Orelove said. “Even now, many friends that still live in Juneau have donated to my cause even though I haven’t seen them in years.”
Orelove said he has been running for about three years in terms of longer distance and endurance.
“I began seriously running last year with my neighbor and entered the Chicago Marathon when his friend tore his ACL the week before the race and gave me his bib,” Orelove said. “I ran through the Chicago winter and have been running consistently knowing that I was going to run the marathon again this year.”
Orelove has logged nearly 700 miles on his GPS since January.
“I run for my health,” Orelove said. “But also because every run is different, and I no matter the mood I’m in, I am always glad I went for the run in the end.”