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Grand Prix Shakedown: A 5K race on Belle Isle to shake away homelessness


A Grand Prix race car can zoom around the 2.3 mile track on Belle Isle in a little over a minute. Last year, the fastest time for the Grand Prix Shakedown 5K Run and Family Fun Walk was just over 16 minutes. The key word here is “zoom.” You know drivers can’t truly enjoy the beauty of Belle Isle tearing along at that breakneck speed. On the other hand, a runner (or walker) can see it all as he or she runs or walks the Grand Prix Shakedown course during the event.

882161_146865732158215_1231870493_oThis is the 20th year for the Grand Prix Shakedown 5K Run and Family Fun Walk. It’s fun, healthy and for a great cause. All proceeds go to 2-1-1 On The Go!, a Downtown Detroit Partnership program that connects homeless people to the services they need. Contributions from corporate sponsors and run fees have helped the Shakedown raise nearly $450,000 over the past 19 years.

The Shakedown is presented by Strategic Staffing Solutions (S3), the Downtown Runners and Walkers, the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix and Penske Corp.

“We too often forget if you are poor, you are essentially an illness, an accident, or a paycheck away from living on the streets,” says Cindy Pasky, founder and CEO of S3. “Foreclosures, job loss, sickness and, yes, incarceration and addiction have moved many from the warmth of a home to the cold streets. At S3 we firmly believe it is part of our job is to help those less fortunate.”

The Shakedown is Tuesday, May 28, 2013 starting at 6:15 p.m.  You can register at

You may be a little winded after your 5K run or walk but there’s joy at the end. There will be pizza, beer, pop and other goodies at Shelter #7.

track-map-printDuring your run or walk, take some time to check out the $7 million in improvements made by the Penske organization.

  • More than 230,000 square feet of new concrete for road improvements and other modifications for more exciting competition and easier usage for everyday Belle Isle users
  • Repaired lighting and drainage systems
  • Renovated Scott Fountain and the Belle Isle Casino
  • More than 460,000 square feet of concrete for paddock area and fan interaction to provide a cleaner and more comfortable race experience
  • New pedestrian bridges and playscapes
  • New concrete areas that can be used by park visitors for parking and community events and activities year round
  • Improvements to the Belle Isle Boat Club

While you’re enjoying your run or walk and the improvements remember the Shakedown is for a good cause.

Helping the homeless in Detroit is a major concern of racing mogul Roger Penske and Pasky. Four years ago these two Detroit business leaders saw the need. They immediately responded and 2-1-1 On the Go! was born. Penske donated two Chevy Cobalt vehicles that now travel around Downtown Detroit offering help and outreach to the homeless. He also found funding from the Downtown Detroit Partnership for the first year.

543857_147611655416956_1787496643_nAt that time Penske was chair of the Downtown Detroit Partnership. Pasky succeeded him and continues the organization’s strong support. Others also quickly jumped in with their support including DTE Energy, Compuware, Detroit Renaissance, Raymond James & Associates, Charter One Bank, the McGregor Fund and Ilitch Charities.

Besides the Shakedown, Pasky also raises dollars for 2-1-1 On the Go! at golf outing fundraisers.

Many people who become homeless have no intention of staying that way for long. But as the days wear on thoughts of finding a job are pushed away as they instead spend their time figuring out where they can find the next meal and warm bed. There are many barriers the homeless face in getting back to a stable, independent lifestyle. They need an address, a phone number and proper identification to start looking for work and they need to know where to go for help. 2-1-1 On the Go! provides that assistance.

What can we do? Run or walk in the Grand Prix Shakedown. You can register at

Register for the Grand Prix Shakedown

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