Founder Rick Sweitzer started the adventure travel company in 1983 before leading one of the first amateur dogsled expeditions to North Pole. Driven by his vision, the guides and instructors of The Northwest Passage lead travelers of all skill and fitness levels to some of the most dramatic terrain on the planet. Locally, the team leads outings around the Chicago area, ranging from stand-up paddleboarding classes on Lake Michigan to kayaking and camping trips in Door County, Wisconsin. As for the rest of the world, Northwest Passage sends it adventurers to conquer it locale by stunning locale during programs that include hiking across Europe, trekking to remote Polar regions, and dressing up like scientists to infiltrate Area 51.
A PGA Class A member since 1992, Robert Jan has thrived on fairways and greens his entire life. During his collegiate career at Millikin University, Robert shot his way to two-time NCAA All-American honors, eventually earning a spot in the school's Hall of Fame. Since then, he has continued to be a force in low-level golf tournaments, amassing more than 30 titles in amateur and professional events and record scores at seven courses without ever having to cork a driver. Today, Robert passes down tips of the trade culled from his immense experience in golf lessons conducted in the greater Milwaukee and Chicago areas. In addition, Robert boasts club-fitting expertise in both Callaway and Titleist equipment, helping his clients find their ideal clubs based on swing type, body profile, and favorite wind instrument.
Coaching at every level of the workout world, CrossFit Shoreside owner Michelle Larson and coach Will Howard share more than two decades of motivational fitness experience. They devoted more than 10 of those years to mastering CrossFit-specific instruction, know-how that they now puts to use with the help of their talented team of fellow instructors. At a studio nestled amid the shops and restaurants of downtown Evanston, the team leads intense 60-minute sessions built on exercises designed to increase functional mobility and flexibility. Although the experience is always challenging, it's also for everyone; thanks to the classes' small size, coaches can scale and modify the workouts to integrate students of all ages and ability levels. The gym even offers CrossFit classes for kids, where age-appropriate exercises encourage healthy habits at a young age, teaching students the benefits of an active lifestyle.
The finish line is a blur of color. Every runner and walker that arrives at Active Care ColorBlast 5K's end point looks like he or she just escaped in slow motion from an exploding chalk factory. In addition to sporting this prismatic new fashion statement, they all seem to have smiles on their faces. That's because the event is more of a celebration than a competition—getting as much color as you can takes precedent over getting the best time you can. In fact, lingering at key points along the 5k route is encouraged. It's at these locations, named color stations, that volunteers toss colored powder—which is made from completely natural and biodegradable food-grade cornstarch—towards the participants, turning their white t-shirts into something akin to tie-die.
More hues wait at the finish line, where group color throws begin immediately after the race's end. As the vibrant cloud rises above the crowd, it announces a collective victory, not just for each participant but the community as a whole. 100% of proceeds from each Color Blast 5k benefits Clearbrook's programs and services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Tressa Thomas has a résumé most performers would envy. She launched her career on stage with dozens of performances throughout Chicago as both a solo singer and band member. She landed a role in Robert Townsend’s film about 1960s R&B music, The Five Heartbeats, which led to a duet with the legendary Patti LaBelle on the film’s soundtrack.
This was all before Thomas turned 13.
Since then, her momentum hasn’t slowed—it’s just swerved in a few new directions. The Columbia College grad was cast in other movies (including Flatliners and Message in a Bottle), produced three independent shorts, and worked on a fourth that came just short of an Academy Award nomination. In the midst of her cinematic endeavors, she also pursued plus-sized modeling, eventually appearing in Ebony, Jet, the LA Times, and other national publications.
Given that she first started singing publicly at age three, when most children can’t yet tell the difference between music and the sound the vacuum cleaner makes, Thomas has never had an issue with confidence. But she realized that as a successful African-American, plus-sized female performer, she was a rarity. And so she decided to share her confidence with other women. She founded ThYck Troupe, a group that started modestly as a “modeling interest club” and grew into a nonprofit organization that creates performance opportunities for other plus-sized women.
Today, ThYck Troupe has gained the support of Secretary of State Jesse White and Governor Pat Quinn in its mission to enrich the Chicago arts community. In addition to mentoring young women and promoting size acceptance, the troupe produces an original web series, organizes fashion shows, and showcases performers in theatrical and musical productions. The company members represent nearly every medium of the creative arts—there are singers and dancers, poets and songwriters, models and actresses, journalists and radio personalities. With the Thyck and Fit Initiative, they broadcast a message of health as well as confidence, giving full-figured women and men the tools they need to achieve good exercise and nutrition habits at any size.
At the annual Disco Dash, bell bottoms remain the apex of fashion. During the race—which is presented by Guaranteed Rate—racers are encouraged to sport billowy wigs, leisure suits, and Ron Burgundy mustaches as they hustle down a 5K or 10K lakeside route. Runners accessorize with a chip-enhanced bib as they jostle for first place, their path lit by golden-hour light. While costumes are by no means required they are happily encouraged, with cash prizes awarded to wearers of the funkiest outfit and least flammable ascot. Afterwards racers strut their stuff at an after-party fueled by Village People, costume contests, and plenty of food and drinks. Proceeds from the race benefit The Peapod Project, which supports families that have lost a child.