Four years ago, Mark Mullis and Chad Purvis came to me with an idea really good idea.They wanted to put together a 5K-run on Thanksgiving morning and use the run as a way to raise awareness of the good work done by the volunteers of the food bank at First Baptist Church. The entry fee for the run would be 15 cans of food, which would be donated to the food bank to help feed the hungry in our community.
With the conclusion of the first race, which took place in the neighborhood where Chad lived, it was obvious that the idea had legs. Over two hundred runners showed up! A new Thanksgiving tradition was born.
Last year, Keith Ariail and Dustin Smith took over the planning and organizing of the race and they did another outstanding job this year! They moved the Turkey Can Run 5K to the streets of Jefferson, beginning and ending the race at our church.
The members of our church and others have volunteered their time staffing this race each year by helping at turns, handing out water, working registration, helping with parking, handling the donated food, and serving food to runners. Today, over forty volunteers showed up to insure that the race was another success.
This Thanksgiving, over 413 runners registered from six different states, and over 380 ran, donating over 5,000 cans of food to needy families in our community.
If you want to be around a happy bunch of people, hang around a finish line of a 5K. After the sprinters catch their breath, they are smiling. Others are smiling even as the cross the line. There are congratulations being made and received. There is a lot of encouraging words being said to the participants and they receive these words with joy.
It lifted my spirit to see a father running with his young son, a mother running with her young teenage daughters, a mom pushing her children in a double stroller, a man who ran in his overalls, friends from work who ran together, a man who ran while remembering one of his running partners who recently died while driving to another race, and a senior citizen who ran with her daughter who drove in from out of town.
At First Baptist Church, “It’s All About Relationships.” The Turkey Can Run 5K is all about relationships. It’s about families starting Thanksgiving morning off together with some good exercise, coming together in community with others who are thankful to be healthy enough to run, thankful to be with family, thankful to have enough food to share with others, and thankful to be home for the holidays. It is a tradition worth keeping. To the dreamers, to our sponsors, to the planners and organizers, to the volunteers, to every runner, and especially to the volunteers of our food bank, thank you and God bless you this Thanksgiving. Gobble, Gobble.