Willard Turkey Trot raises almost $12,000 in support of school district’s Care to Learn

On Thanksgiving Morning, Thursday, Nov. 28, a day known for indulgent eating, about 360 people gathered at the Willard Middle School to take part in the Eighth Annual Willard Turkey Trot, a 5K walk/run event which benefits the Care to Learn program in Willard.
Many of the participants took part in the Turkey Trot for different reasons. For Jo Ann Barker, it was a way to help maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“During the last year, I have lost about 85 pounds, and the more that I lose, the more active that I’m getting,” she said. “So, I’m just trying to do more and more, and they’re fun to do.”
Matt Darst, who walked in the 5K with his children, said they take part in the Turkey Trot every year. “It’s a tradition every year for us,” he said. “(We) come up here and we usually do the slow people side with little kids.”
Last year, the Turkey Trot raised just under $12,000, and it was estimated this year’s 5K raised about the same amount.
“Ten-percent of it goes to the Willard Rec Department for their scholarship program to help students with after-school programs,” said Debbie Burks, a social worker with the Willard School District. “The other 90-percent comes back to Willard Care to Learn, which helps with emergent health, hunger and hygiene for our students in Willard Schools.”
In addition to the 5K participants, 25 volunteers were at the Turkey Trot to help ensure the event ran smoothly.
“We have our National Honor Society,” said Burks. “The students are actually doing the road marshalling to make sure our participants are safe, and then we have Wellsprings Church and some other community members help out with registration. And then, we have the Cross Trail Outfitters; they also volunteer and help get our food to the Food Pantry, and also do some parking lot control.
Several of the Turkey Trot participants walked with their small children in strollers, and others brought service animals or pets. Burks said this was encouraged to get as many people as possible involved in the 5K.
“We want it to be a community fun event, so we encourage strollers (and) pets,” she said. “They can trot, they can walk, they can crawl. We don’t care, just get the community out.”



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