Education, Awareness, and Charity

Many communities have amazing walking and running events to celebrate holidays such as 4th of July, Veteran's Day, and Thanksgiving. Loving to run and inspired at the thought of bringing such an event to my small town, the idea of a turkey trot hopped into my head. I had participated in several in other towns and my family and I had created one or two when we were in an area that did not offer such a fun-run, I had the background knowledge and the desire. With a little conversation with our mayor and city council, the high school cheerleaders and wrestlers and a few friends, the local Thanksgiving morning walk/run transformed from a sketch and a doodle into a firm reality. The day and the place were easy and the charity to benefit from registration proceeds was easier. Being a volunteer for Alzheimer's and our local hospice and wanting to spread awareness, we were off and running, so to speak, with a wonderful beneficiary as well.

The local hospital provided some up-front funding for long-sleeved shirts and a local business designed and printed them for us with Alzheimer's purple as a primary eye-catcher. Other organizations donated raffle prizes, water, chocolate milk, and bananas. The high school let us start and end on the track at the football field with the vice-principal as our announcer and the local police made sure cars looked out for participants along the route. The cheerleaders spread out along the course to cheer, offer support, and separate the 3K, 5K, and 8K walkers and runners. That is one of the advantages of a small community: everyone cares and is willing to pitch in to bring success.

Because the wrestlers already run on Thanksgiving morning, they were the logical and perfect begin to the event. Lining up at the starting line, their bright blue running gear stood out against the fresh skiff of icy, white snow. While 1* had been forecast, a delightful 23* took its place. With everyone bundled and excited we sang a rough version of the national anthem and then zipped into action. As walkers and runners exited the field and took to the streets, volunteers raced to set up the raffle drawing and snacks for after the walk/run. Within one deep breath, the first 3K runners entered the stadium - father and son - to the cheers of our remaining crowd. Just a few seconds later the rest of the participants started pouring onto the track for their victory lap, cheers, goodies, and smiles. Invigorated by it all, my heart soared thinking of the good that had been produced by a group of locals who care about our community. "Far out, man!"

Some of the greatest aspects were the thanks, the happiness, the enthusiasm of everyone in attendance. Thrilled with an early morning excursion, they were ready to head home for a yummy dinner. Parting words of encouragement set me into motion for next year's turkey trot. An annual celebration is now in place.
By Gini Cunningham

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