I thought it was the craziest idea I'd ever heard. A couple of guys said they ran a race timing company. First of all, I didn't know that was a thing. They explained how they set up races like 5ks and marathons by plotting the course and organizing the event, then timing the participants as they come through the finish line where they hand out medals and awards.
Then they said they loved our station and wanted to do something to help raise support, and that they think Palatka would be a good place for races but none were being done here. To test that theory they wanted to do a race to benefit Hope FM and they'd handle everything.
Here's the crazy part: they wanted to do it on Thanksgiving morning. They assured me that across the country, turkey day is the biggest race day of the year and that people would show up: serious runners and those that want to support our station. So we did it.
Most Thanksgiving Day races are called turkey trots, so they suggested Trot for Hope as the name. On the morning of that first event, I was amazed when 150 people showed up!
It's grown every year since then. People still came even the year it rained!
We plan to have 600 participants this year; and it's become a fantastic fundraiser, thanks to all the sponsors.
Best of all, it's become a tradition that people in our community can look forward to. Church groups, friends, families, co-workers, and team mates have made it a way to make memories and add to the reasons to be thankful on Thanksgiving.
One of my favorite things to do is stand at the finish line and watch as people cross who gave it their all - not just the runners who finish first, but the walkers that have made it their goal to prepare for and finish something bigger than ever before. Even if you don't participate, I hope you'll come join me at the finish line to cheer them on!
Me and my mom at the first Trot for Hope, 2013. That year we gave out awards to top finishers in each age category and she won!