A Turkey Trot Guest Post

(This is a guest post from Amanda Wright at Plateau Medical Center. Amanda helped coordinate the Turkey Trot in Oak Hill on Thanksgiving Day. You can read ACE’s Beth Gill’s blog post about the Turkey Trot here.)In a popular sense, ideas arise in a reflexive spontaneous manner, without thinking or serious reflection. This is exactly how the Turkey Trot came to be. I thought, why not get up early and run around Oak Hill? If I thought it sounded fun, wouldn’t other people like the idea too?

I am fortunate to work for Plateau Medical Center. I am fortunate to work with people who believe that anything is possible. They believe impossible things happen, not only through hard work and determination, but also because they experience in the course of their work inexplicable miracles.

So, it was with the support and encouragement of my amazing team of coworkers that in small steps an idea became an event.

Sure enough, right around 100 people also liked the idea. They liked this idea enough that they woke up early on a bright cold holiday morning, when they could have slept in. They liked this idea enough that they collectively donated $560 in cash and over 800 pounds of food to the Food Pantry.

Standing in the Cross Fit gym at about 7:40 a.m., I had to fight the wave of panic that desperately urged me to Turkey Trot right on out the door and to my car, even though we had 100 t-shirts and 64 pies to hand out. We were short on volunteers. Actually, “short” is a bit optimistic; there was only Daniel and I, or so I thought.

Daniel had worked tirelessly in the 2 short weeks that we spent planning this event, he mapped the course, he called sponsors, he ran errands (and if you know Daniel, you know he literally RAN), he cut up fruit, he paid attention to the details and was more than thorough in his planning.

When I pulled my car up to the curb to unload the 64 pies, a stranger named John said, “Here let me help you.” Before anytime had passed, we had all the pies laid out on the tables. John saw that the T-shirts were a disorganized mess and he started sorting the sizes and folding them, several people stopped looking for their own size T-shirt and started helping him.

A note about the pies: When researching Turkey Trots I read about a run in San Diego that handed out pies at random to Turkey Trotters. I couldn’t help but think that was a great idea, so I put it on the flyers I emailed, faxed and distributed far and wide. And being a classic idea, I never gave it a second thought until my boss Chad said, “That’s awesome, where are you gonna get the pies?” Fortunately for me, Mountain State University Culinary Program bakes over 300 pies for their Holiday Bake Sale and Executive Chef Bailey generously donated 46 Scottish Squash Pies. Kroger donated 2 pies, Cathederal Café donated 5 pies and I baked 12. (By the way, I did eat one because 46+2+5+12 does not equal 64.)

As I walked behind the counter to take command of registration, Sue walked in, “Good Morning! Happy Thanksgiving!” she beamed, with her arms flung wide and a smile on her face. “I have 2 helpers with me, where is the set-up for the water station?”

WOW, one issue resolved. As participants brought in food and it piled up on the floor, we decided it should go outside so everyone could see how much food we were collecting. No sooner did I pick up a box than a stranger named Scott and his friend Lenny took over. I noticed quickly how many people just jumped right in and helped them.

When I was trying to figure out how people could shorten Fayette Plateau Ministerial Association Food Pantry, so it would fit on a check. This turned out to be FPMAFP — seems so easy to figure that out now in the comfort of my office with a computer, yet was very nearly impossible during registration.

At 8 a.m., I walked outside and saw that the sidewalk was overflowing with donated food. A large crowd was gathering. Daniel was speaking with the Oak Hill City Police, who would lead the runners and with Jancare Ambulance who would sweep the course. Bob from WOAY who came out to not only cover the event but also to donate food and walk the course was interviewing Dr. Keffer. Dr Keffer was volunteered by many in the crowd to be our spokesperson. As soon as he was done, Daniel gave the pre-race meeting — walkers this way, runners that way, be safe have fun, watch for cars, on your mark, set, go! BAM, he fired the gun, I started the timer, and everyone scattered. The race was on! Runners ran down the rail trail towards Virginia St, Walkers walked towards Jones Avenue and beyond.

Harriet who came to cheer a Turkey Trotter got sent to Central Ave., to be cheerleader for everyone. Waylon got put in charge of timing each runner as they crossed the finish line. Daniel was running back and forth with cones. Just as we thought everything was ready and all we had to do was wait for the first runner, Daniel said, “This is not right, we have no finish line. What can we use? I know, toilet paper.” And before I could talk him out of it, away he ran. He was back soon and set up a proper finish line.

21 minutes and 29 seconds after the race was started Lucas broke the 2-ply and I happily snapped an awesome picture of him. By this time Bill had established himself as finish line photographer along with myself and official cheer squad.

Runner after runner came in. And the stories came with them: a runner who quit smoking and started running; the husband and wife who ran together, the mom who pushed her 2 kids in a stroller, the 2 girls who had never been in a running race before, the runner who wanted to run a race before he turned 40, a runner who wanted a chocolate pie, a runner who just wanted to run.

Walker after walker came in; they were all rosy cheeked smiling. Small groups of people chatted easily around the finish line, cheering as walkers and runners finished. Eventually we all made our way back to where we started, and I began handing out pies to all of these amazing sweaty people. As the morning began to wind down and I began to think about how I was going to get all of the food across the street to the food pantry. Tina walked up to me and said, “I’m gonna pull my truck up and load the food, ok with you?” She didn’t even need an answer and before long many arms lifted, carried and wheeled all the donations across the street to the Food Pantry.

What started out as an idea turned into a really great event, where we all worked hard, pushed ourselves and gave freely of our energy, time and money. It is truly the collective power of individuals joined in a spirit of goodwill and generous giving that made an idea into an event with impact. We did it to benefit area families in need and we did it as a community.

When I think back on this event I realize that Daniel and I were not the only volunteers and this race would definitely not have happened without them, so thank you to all of the volunteers of the Turkey Trot:

Jim, Lisa, Ryan, Dave, Matt, Scott K, Lesley, Lucas, Brian, Tara, James, Dede, Mike, Bob, Karen, Sarah, Linda, Allie, Derek, Janice, Scott C, Tiffany, Sara, Tina, Jennifer, Jennifer B., Jack, Lisa M, Julie, Matt H., Tracey, Sue P., Sue J., Dot, Charlie, Kaylee, Betty, Bob, Tracy M., Beth, Mandy, Savannah, Sarah K, Amanda K, Bruce, Hunter, Addison, Rhonda, Cary, Pam, Linda, Sherry, Terra, Leisa, Jennifer, Heath, Rita, Chad, Penny, Stefan, Nick, Bridget, Heather, Becky, Karen A, Anessia, Scott, Cornelia, Drema, Kelly, Michelle, Alison, Nicki, Nanette, Melanie, Brianna, Misty, Amanda, Ed, Bernice, David, Scott K, Derek, Deborah, Daniel, Waylon, Kirby, Bill C, William, Wendy, Sue, Cazh, Jax, Steve.

Thank You to our Sponsors:

Plateau Medical Center, Active Fitness Center, A Place to Grow, King Coal Chevrolet, Kroger, Foodland, MSU Culinary Program, Cathederal Café, Oak Hill City Police, Jancare, New River Sportswear, New River Mountain Guides.

So if you want to see your name here, you’ll have to get involved, see you all next year!

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