Gilbert Turkey Trot…Thanksgiving 2022…

November may be my busiest month of the year as I work to get the turkey trot details wrapped up and then the event itself. It ends up being a family affair as the whole family is involved.

The day before Thanksgiving, we have the packet pickup for the race. Hallie, Hunter and Bennett join me and help in different stations; checking people in and handing out t-shirts.

The morning of the race Hunter and a family friend joined my bright and early to finish last minute setting up. This is a trailer load of just half the donuts we had for the race.

I’m amazed that each and every year this race grows – which is awesome for our charities. As I started out on the family fun run with my family, it was such a fun sight to see people spilling out from the mall parking lot. I can’t remember the last time I ran a mile and I’m embarrassed to admit how out of shape I am!

For the first year ever, we didn’t have a stroller or a scooter and those little legs ran the whole race. There was a point where Briggs’ legs were tired and he was ready to walk. Talking to himself, he said, “I just really want that medal!” and those little legs started running again. I didn’t tell him he would have received the medal regardless if he walked or ran.

In years’ past, Hallie has seemed to disappear with her cousins when it was time to run, claiming they accidentally missed it. But not this year – she was a willing participant with her cousin Claire.

Last year Bennett and Hunter both really trained for the 5K – this year their only training has been soccer practice/games. Bennett was adamant that he would not be running this year and yet days before the race he said he would do it – he was going to earn a medal. I was so happy to see him cross the finish line and the only thing he said to me was, “I think I’m going to throw up. No, seriously, I’m just want to throw up. Luckily, he didn’t need one of the many buckets that were used more frequently than I would have imagined.

I was standing at the finish line taking pictures of everyone running through and somehow I missed Hunter, not even sure how that was possible but he ran right by me and I didn’t see him. He was proud of his 21 minute completion and even more proud he beat his uncle’s time who runs marathons.

Hallie was happy to be surrounded by cousins. So many of them have moved on to college so she really enjoys when they all come home to visit.

This is the crew behind the turkey trot. The crew that sits in meetings and determines just how many doughnuts we need this year and how many barricades we need for the finish line. Every person with a very specific skillset and role on the team. It’s an entertaining group to say the least.

After we put on a successful race, it was time to put on a successful dinner. Steve’s brother graciously hosted (as they have done so many years in the past) and every family did their part to contribute to the dinner.

After dinner, more family gathered for dessert and games. We spent the evening outside in competition and then brought the competition inside for some group games. There is never a dull moment with this group. People were winning money and others were jumping in the pool with all their clothes or serenading us with song.

As we climbed in the car later that night, we rode home listening to Christmas music recounting the days events. And then all the weeks of preparation caught up with me and I crashed – I was good for nothing Friday, but it was a good recovery day.

Our little runner…

At the beginning of the school year, Bennett was setting goals for the children and youth program for our church. I encouraged him to set a running goal that would help him in soccer. He decided he would run one mile, two times a week – a great goal seeing as though he had never run much before. He mastered this goal rarely missing a run.

As the turkey trot drew near, I was working on the design for the medals. (A first for our turkey trot). When Bennett saw the design he asked if he could have one. I told him they were for the runners of the 5K and Bennett decided he was going to be earn a medal. It was just 4 weeks from Thanksgiving and I helped him with a running plan that would increase his one mile to three miles in time for the race – the plan also included getting him some running shoes. He didn’t even bat an eye – he took the plan and started running with it (pun intended!). This kid is goal oriented and he achieves what he sets out to accomplish. When the medals were shipped to our house just a week before the race, Bennett got to practice wearing one and he was confident that a week later he would earn it.

Thanksgiving morning rolled around and as a board, we realized we had enough medals to give to all the 5K runners as well as the kids of the fun run. Over the intercom system, they announced kids of the fun run would receive a medal and you should have seen the daggers that Bennett shot my direction as he realized he didn’t even have to run the 5K to get the medal! 🙂 I reminded him that he had trained for this very moment and he would know he truly earned it.

So off he ran, with his cousin by his side and I just prayed that he would do okay in the sea of 3500 people running the race with him.

When Bennett crossed the finished line, he looked exhausted but he had completed the race faster than any of his training. It was a proud mom moment. I wanted a few more pictures, but he was not having it – he just wanted his medal.

I hope he remembers this day. I hope he remembers how hard he trained for something he thought was impossible not too long ago. I hope he sees this medal and beams with pride for his accomplishment. And I hope he runs it again next year!

Turkey Trot 2021…

11 years ago – Steve’s brother, with the help of friends, started the Gilbert Turkey Trot in a retention basin by their house – with 100% or proceeds going to charity. A couple years in, I came on to help and have been with them ever since. It is a family fun race that continues to grow each and every year (always exceeding our expectations) with these guys as the masterminds.

And as much fun as it is – it is so much work and it makes for a busy November. Steve is a good sport because he holds down the fort as the race nears and towards the end, it’s all hands on deck. We go the day before Thanksgiving and work the packet pickup, with the kids manning different stations and then we’re up and at the race early the morning of, to finish setting up – hence the sleepy eyes in the picture below!

We’ve always participated in the family fun run and now that our kids are getting older, a few are running the 5K. Somehow Hallie managed to miss both the fun run and the 5K – probably strategic. She was hanging out with these cousins and didn’t hear the call for the runners to head to start line – which meant more cousin and doughnut time!

Everyone in Steve’s family was in town for Thanksgiving which meant they all showed up to walk/run and support.

Bennett ran his first 5K which is a story in and of itself that I will share – but he definitely earned his medal!

Hunter was excited to learn that out of all the family members that ran the race – and there were a lot of them – he finished first in the family at 21:30 – and ranked 156 overall out of more than 3500 runners. All his soccer training is paying off.

The “thankful wall” is always my favorite. There was discussion early on in our planning meetings whether or not we should set up the wall this year. This thing is heavy and massive – and it takes a lot of work to set it up and take it down. We decided it is always so well received that we thought people would miss it – so we brought it back out and I’m so glad we did. (I was always pulling to have it!)

I caught Briggs by himself at the wall, using his finger spacing in between his words as he was writing, “my sistr”. Melt my mom heart!

And after months of work and planning – it seems to go by in the blink of an eye and then we’re left to clean it all up. Luckily, my little helpers are willing and able to jump in and make the tear down and clean up entertaining. Never a dull moment.

This race is always so much work that it leaves me questioning whether or not I could possibly do it all over again the next year. And then the morning of the race comes and its amazing. And we see so many families participating and I’m overcome with gratitude for everyone’s efforts to pull this off and I can’t imagine not doing it again. I love this tradition for my own family as well as Steve’s extended family.

We asked our kids about the race and Hunter said it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without this event and I couldn’t help but agree. It’s become a big part of us and my favorite way to start the day. Although it does make me want to crash the minute Thanksgiving dinner is done! Until next year…

Thanksgiving break…

We started our Thanksgiving break with flu shots for the whole family! Some were braver than other, but my lips are sealed! We’re hoping this helps even just a little bit in the fight against this year’s flu bug that is already taken Arizona by storm – 300% more cases confirmed than this time last year.

Thanksgiving break largely revolved around the Gilbert Turkey Trot – all the prep and then of course the actual race.

Steve’s brother hosted the family this year, a beautiful and intimate gathering of 62 people. 🙂 It really isn’t as chaotic and crazy as it sounds. Everyone brings food and family came over the day before to help set everything up. They have an ideal home to host such a gathering.

Its been a while since the whole gang has been together.

Sometimes in group pictures its hard to tell who is an original member of the family – here’s all nine of them. (and Annie on the far right was a trooper – she had a baby just days before but wasn’t about to miss out on the fun!)

Before the rain decided to make an appearance all the cousins enjoyed a friendly, yet rather competitive gave of wiffle ball. Young and old – they were all out there swinging for the fences.

After Thanksgiving day, we all kind of crashed in some regards. A lot of naps and sleeping kids (and adults!)

We got some time with Bob and Virginia over Thai food before they flew out on Friday.

Hunter arranged a turkey bowl with his friends and his fun was cut short when he caught Bennett’s head to his eye.

Saturday night we gathered as many siblings as we could and went to the final ASU game of the season. We started the season sweating to death in 110 degrees. We ended the season bundled up (layers upon layers and then blankets thrown on top) when it was 46 degrees out – we had a cold front move in and it was a late night game. Despite the cold (I had no idea they served hot chocolate in this stadium) we had a great time.

We ended the break by pulling out all the Christmas boxes and blanketing our home with green and red and more glitter than my vacuum knows how to pick up.

And then we blinked and it seems like Christmas is already here. That’s what happens when Thanksgiving is so late in November!

Gilbert Turkey Trot…

Years ago, I designed a logo for the Gilbert Turkey Trot. That opened a door to my continued involvement which seems to grow each year and for that I am grateful.

There is so much that goes into this event. Meetings upon meetings and a team of people invested in this cause. It is beautiful to watch so many countless hours poured in as a labor of love.

This year we started to get a little nervous a week before the race. Rain was in the forecast and it was looking ugly. We’ve never had to deal with rain and we weren’t sure what we would do. We prayed, ordered ponchos and prayed some more: We just needed a small window Thanksgiving morning!

The night before the race, the kids and I went and worked the packet pickup. And although heavy with clouds, not a drop of rain fell and the clouds parted for the most beautiful sunset.

Of course after everything was set up late that night, the rain came down. But the next morning the threatening clouds just hovered. The sun even peeked out of the clouds a few times. By some Thanksgiving miracle the forecast for absolute rain never came. It didn’t rain the whole time we were there, even through clean up. As the last couple people cleaning up drove away late that morning, the rain started to fall. It was a miracle.

Actually, that night, in that parking lot at the mall, a tornado touched down ripping out 20 trees and caused some building damage.

Even with threatening rain – we had the best turnout we’ve ever had and even more money was raised for AzBrainFood and Families Fighting. Blindness.

The family showed up from near and far – all of Steve’s siblings were together – and supported Lucy and her cause. Steve, Bennett, Cannon, Briggs and myself ran the one mile family run. Hunter stepped it up a notch and ran the 5K (thanks to soccer he’s in great shape) and Hallie conveniently missed both runs and ended up at the family booth helping with cousins.

We saw Steve’s brother and sister for the first time since their arrival and it made for a sweet reunion.

Steve, with all of his brothers and brothers-in-law. (Oddly enough in this picture they’re split evenly – four brothers-in-law on the left, four brothers on the right.) Eight of them in total and when they get together they laugh and laugh – they think they’re all pretty funny and their comedic timing is something else.

The gratitude wall is always my favorite every year. Its fun to read all that people are thankful for.

Even Briggs tagged the wall – with his own name – the only thing he really knows how to write.

Being in this place surrounded by so many family members wearing their white shirts with red glasses was a beautiful feeling. We are family but we are also a community and when all together, we’re quite the sight. Hallie and I were some of the last to leave and I looked around in amazement at the empty streets. They were crowded just an hour before and with an army of volunteers the whole thing was torn down in no time. My heart was full. And tired.