Pam Erickson has been recognized as Greatest Person of the Day on Huffington Post, a feature that spotlights ordinary and extraordinary people in Patch communities whose acts of courage, determination, volunteerism and compassion have made a difference in their towns. These are people who inspire and energize others to strengthen their communities and improve lives.
Pam Erickson is "just that competitive."
She once ran a 50-mile trail race in Michigan, during which the man running beside her mentioned he had solicited food donations from supporters prior to the race to donate to a local food pantry. He had collected 3,000 items.
"I thought, 'I want to raise 3,001.' Just one more than him," she said, laughing.
Well, she surpassed her goal, collecting a grand total of 4,157 items.
Her overall goal might have been driven by her competitive spirit, but her motivation stems from from a homily at her parish, St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Frankfort.
"Our visiting pastor talked about the need to feed starving children," Erickson said. "We need to help in our own back yard."
The mom and Frankfort Square resident stepped up and decided to step out in support of Together We Cope. She vowed to run 50 miles in an effort to raise food for needy families in the south suburbs.
The avid runner was looking for another 50-mile run, but registration costs for an official race would add up and she would rather give that money to Together We Cope, she said—along with those 3,001 non-perishable food items.
On Saturday, Oct. 22, Erickson rose bright and early and headed to Darien's to fulfill her end of the deal with each person who donated food. It was not an official run—there was no registration and she did not have any competitors. She ran for no one—and against no one—other than herself.
She ran just over 2 miles on a frontage road, then took several laps around the path in order to reach the 50-mile count. She donated what would have been registration fees for an official run, and instead purchased goods for the social services agency.
She wrote each donor's name on her T-shirt, taking them with her as she ran. Anyone who wished to run with her was welcome.
"I don't need another T-shirt that says, 'I ran 50 miles,'" she said. "I don't need another medal."
Husband Scott Erickson was in on the challenge, as well.
Coach of Light Weight A’s team, Scott offered an incentive to his players and their families. He encouraged each player or cheerleader to bring in five non-perishable, non-expired food items, and receive a “Get Out of Sprints/Coaches Designated Activity” pass good for one practice.
"The more people are involved, the more chances she (had) to reach her goal," Scott said. "I back her up 100 percent."
The younger members of the Erickson family were also involved. Their 8-year-old twins, Zack and Grace, helped Pam sort the donations.
"It's been a good experience for my whole family," Pam Erickson said. "The dry goods are starting to take over my kitchen!"
Scott Erickson couldn't be happier with Pam's goal and passion.
"It's good for our kids," Scott said. "It teaches them to give back to the community, not just take, take, take.
"Give some back, too."