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Molex, Bears reflect popularity of Chicago's Corporate Challenge

Members of Molex gather for a team photo. Molex has participated in Chicago's J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge for more than two decades and will have a team of more than 170 members at Grant Park for this year's race on May 22
Members of Molex gather for a team photo. Molex has participated in Chicago's J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge for more than two decades and will have a team of more than 170 members at Grant Park for this year's race on May 22

Dan Klein remembers the first time he was a member of the Molex team at the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge® in Chicago.

“The entire team drove to the race in a station wagon,” he said.

Times have changed for Molex and for the race.

“Now, we have 3-4 busloads,” said Klein, a manufacturing engineer at Molex and its team captain. His team will have more than 170 members this year.

Just as Molex’ participation has grown, so has the Corporate Challenge in Chicago. Last year, Chicago’s 3.5-mile corporate team race in Grant Park attracted a record crowd of 25,478 runners and walkers from 669 companies. It was the largest single-night U.S. event in the 38-year history of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge Series.

Another full capacity crowd is expected for the 33rd edition of the race, scheduled for Thursday, May 22 with a 7: 00 p.m. start at Grant Park, leading into the Memorial Day weekend.

“Molex has been participating in this race for over 20 years,” said Klein. “Molex is represented by all areas of the company. We will have participants ranging from clerks to the CEO (Martin Slark, a multi-time entrant) and CFO. It is a great way to interact with co-workers from different areas of the company in a relaxed atmosphere.”

Molex is celebrating 75 years of innovation. It was instrumental in the first car radio, the first cellular phone and the first HDTV. It also has contributed to the success of the Mars Curiosity rover.

And, it has embraced the Corporate Challenge for two decades, reflecting a focus on employee health and fitness at the Chicago-based company.

“They are very important to the company,” said Klein. “We have a fantastic fitness center with treadmills, steppers, elliptical, weight machines and more. The center is staffed with employees from Advocate Health who also lead classes of yoga, spin, core conditioning and the like. It is the feeling of Molex top management that active and healthy employees have lower health costs and are more productive.”

But, adds Klein, participation in the Corporate Challenge also is about fun.

“I like the fact that for one night, over 100 Molex employees are participating in the same race,” said Klein. “This year it will be a sea of bright yellow shirts for the men and pink for the women showing pride in Molex.”

Among the other teams gathering in Grant Park will be one that has just a short jog from its headquarters to the starting line. The Chicago Bears Football Club will enter a team for the seventh year.

“We view the Corporate Challenge as an exciting opportunity to take part in their (J.P. Morgan’s) event, held right down the street from our home at Soldier Field,” said Elizabeth Peters, Partnership Activation Coordinator with the Bears and a first-year team captain.

For Peters, participating in the event is a logical step for the Bears.

“Working in a professional athletic organization, health and fitness comes pretty natural to everyone at our company,” Peters said. “All staff is invited to use our team workout facility before and/or after work if we’d like. This is a great event because it brings our staff together as a team outside of the workplace but still creates a fun competitive spirit within our group as well.”

Peters is directing a team with 26 members.

“That is the most we have had on our team,” she said.

That terrific Bears’ turnout will assist a worthy cause as the 2014 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge will serve as a benefit and awareness builder for Get In Chicago.

Launched in March, 2013, the not-for-profit is addressing the problem of youth violence by supporting prevention and intervention efforts across high-violence community areas in Chicago and collaborating with researchers to gather data and evaluate which programs are working, for whom and why.

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