Reflections on Dedham`s Thanksgiving Turkey Trot Race …

 Sitting in a nice, warm living room, surrounded by family, with football on the TV, a table full of snacks and appetizers, while waiting for our Thanksgiving dinner, was the “perfect time” to relax and reflect on Dedham`s 2nd Annual Family Gratitude Turkey Trot Run.

 It was well before the morning sun rose, that volunteers began arriving at the Endicott Estate. Vehicle headlights shined the way as cars and trucks were unloaded. It was a blustery cold 16 degrees when tables and tents came and were set in place.

 Over 75 people had signed on to help with the set up and volunteer duties needed to make this race a reality! Moms and Dads had to coax their kids out of nice warm beds, DMS boys and girls really learned what it meant to “dress in layers.” Neighbors picked up one another as the sun broke over the horizon.

 For weeks – make that months – Ripples of Hope Founder, Kristen Atwood, and Dedham`s event coordinator, Pat Sweeney, had worked tirelessly to ensure that “everything” was taken care of and would be ready to go on Thanksgiving morning. Last year was the Town`s first race and had drawn over 700 runners and a handful of local sponsors. The 2012 Turkey Trot had collected almost $15,000. for the Dedham Food Pantry. This year, the event grew in leaps and bounds. The amount of runners had almost doubled to over 1200 participants. The local and corporate sponsors included the Needham Bank, Reebok, Lily, Petrini, Whole Foods, Dunkin Donuts, City Sports and the Beth Israel Deaconess. All realized how important the Turkey Trot had become and were eager to help.

 Braving the cold, we saw Linda Hurley, community service coordinator from the Noble and Greenough School, bring a crew with her and bounce from Rob Blaney`s dj tables to the waiting Nobles vans collecting food donations. There was Dedham`s Doug Flynn – who never stopped moving – joined by Manny Ruiz, Ron Ludvigsen and a host of others. When Legacy Place`s Carlos Andrade`s Dunkin Donuts franchise arrived with hot coffee and donuts, they were swarmed.

 Dedham Food Pantry President Lindsay Barich, went from group to group, offering his assistance and thanking those involved for their help. Our Food Pantry “takes care of” over 200 families here in town each month! The folks from Whole Foods “brought it all” for the race. There were cases upon cases of bottled water, fresh fruits, and cider. Dressed for the weather, the Dedham Police officers were ready to lead the race, cover the local route and help out where needed!

 As race time approached, Tom Logan and Craig Perno took a group of volunteers with them to direct traffic and park cars. Pat Sweeney`s wife Joanne, readied the on-site registration tables with yet another group of helpers. Number bibs were handed out, along with Turkey Trot t-shirts and the masses were instructed to the starting line on Mt.Vernon St. Elite runners ran quick sprints and stretched, while family members huddled together to stay warm.

 After a heartfelt thanks from founder Kristen Atwood, the microphone was handed over to Ms. Oladunni Oladipo to sing a rousing edition of our National Anthem.  This wonderful little 14 year old girl from Canton, is on the verge of stardom, having sung with the Boston Pops, and all of our local Boston sports teams.

 The bullhorn was handed over to State Representative Paul McMurty, who took time out of his busy schedule, and the race was underway. The Dedham Food Pantry and the Dedham Youth Commission were the recipients of this incredible community effort and plans are underway to have this continue to grow and become a family tradition here in Town.

Story and Photos by: Joe Kilroy

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Dan O'Neil November 30, 2013 at 09:16 PM
These folks did an awesome job!! I ran the race last year and this year. They sent constant emails and alerted people on there Facebook page for info regarding the race and they also were very good about taking feedback. I think this event will just continue to get better every year. Just a wonderful experience!


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