"Jog for Jill" brings Penn rowing teams together


Five-kilometer charity race for deceased Cal coxswain unites men's and women's squads




Getting up early on weekends is a struggle for everyone, especially college athletes. But for the members of the Penn men’s lightweight and women’s crew teams, getting up on one particular Sunday was something they were actually looking forward to.

At 9 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6, the two teams met at Fairmount Park for the “Jog for Jill” 5-kilometer charity run. “Jog for Jill” is an event that started in 2010 and serves to benefit the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.

The annual event honors Jill Costello, a former coxswain for California who died in 2010 after being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. Just two months prior to losing her battle with cancer, Jill was able to inspire her boat to place second in the NCAA championship race. Rowing teams around the country have supported the various “Jog for Jill” races in her honor ever since.

“The rowing community is very tight-knit,” senior Anne Hofinga said. “When a member of our community is in need of support, it is not unusual for rowers around the country to step up on their behalf. “

Hofinga, one of the captains of the women’s crew team, has participated in the jog many times over the last few years.

Though the men’s lightweight crew team helped fundraise last year’s race, it was unable to participate in the actual run because it fell on the same day as the Navy Day Regatta.

This year, though, members of the lightweight program joined forces with the women’s program to jog in honor of a fellow athlete.

“As a varsity sport, it is easy for us to get stuck in our small training bubble,” senior lightweight rower Sam Shaw said. “[Jog for Jill is] a great program and it’s a great way to remind the community that we are more than just athletes.”

In addition, members of the Penn rowing community displayed their support on their sleeves, as both the lightweight team and women’s crew team sported black and blue “Team Jill” shirts during warmups for this year’s Navy Day Race.

“Jill Costello’s battle with lung cancer really hits home for our team,” Hofinga said. “There are a few people on our team who were actually fortunate enough to meet Jill and see what a great addition she was to the rowing world.“

While the “Jog for Jill” run is still in its infancy, it is likely that it will continue to grow over the next few years.

“We have already been in contact with other teams who are interested in joining forces and making one Team Jill,” men’s lightweight coach Nick Baker said. “It’s a great event and it’s a great way for our athletes to get out there and do some good in a community setting.”

“Being a member of Penn’s athletic community and the women’s rowing team is so rewarding,” Hofinga added. “Coming together to continue Jill Costello’s legacy is truly a privilege.”

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