It's been nearly three months since Lake Zurich teen Gabriella "Gabby" Drozdz was killed in a hit-and-run while walking with two friends to Alpine Fest.
Though a $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest, the person who hit Gabby has not yet been caught. Gabby's family wants to offer an even larger reward — and two family friends hope to help.
Chad Hagen and Matt Maguire will run Sunday's Chicago Marathon in memory of Gabby. The two men are asking the community to help raise money by pledging $1 for each mile of their run, or just over $26. Proceeds will go to the Remembering Gabby Drozdz Fund.
"I wanted to do something for the family," said Hagen, of Lake Barrington. "I thought if they got (the reward) up to $10,000, it might be more attractive to someone to come forward."
Dressed for the Occassion
Hagen and Maguire will wear purple tie-dyed shirts with Gabby's picture on them during the marathon.
"We wanted to stand out a little among the runners and spectators," said Hagen. He distributed 10,000 fliers throughout the Lake Zurich community about the fundraiser and said about $1,500 has been raised so far. Donations can be made on the Remembering Gabby Drozdz website.
"Gabby was a sweetheart," said Hagen, noting that Gabby used to baby-sit his daughters. "She always had a smile on her face."
Maguire, an avid runner, said this race will definitely hold more meaning for him.
"It's cool to be out there for a cause and to help somebody out," said the Joliet resident.
While he never met Gabby, he is friends with Gabby's brother, Scott Grzelak.
"I know how much it affects the family," said Maguire. "They don't have closure."
Gabby's sister, Ilona Gregory, said Hagen and Maguire's efforts mean a lot to her family.
"We are so touched by the continued support and love and the fact that people aren't letting this go away," said Gregory. "It's very heartwarming."
No Closure, Just Pain
Gregory said her family continues to try to deal with the loss of Gabby.
"I think it's going to get worse before it gets better," said Gregory. "It's a life-changer. It's trying to learn how to live our lives without Gabby.
"You just don't know what to think," Gregory continued. "I feel like our lives are just a bunch of marbles that someone just threw up in the air and the pieces are all over the place."
She is frustrated that the driver — or someone with information — has yet to come forward.
"I just don't understand how anyone could ever live with that," said Gregory. "If one of my brothers did that, I understand there's loyalty but I would encourage them to go to the police.
"It's just frustrating how there's no progress," said Gregory.
Lake County Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. The vehicle that hit Gabby and her friends is described as a two-tone blue van with a lighter accent color, possibly silver or gray. The vehicle being sought is a GMC Safari or Chevrolet Astro van from model years 1985-94.
Anyone with information on this vehicle is asked to call Lake County Crime Stoppers at (847) 662-2222.