Almost 10 years ago two friends in Pima, AZ, Cody Marshall and Melinda Nelson, started talking about putting on a 5K race on Thanksgiving Day. Many other cities around the United States offer a race on that day known for lots of eating, but not anywhere near the Gila Valley. They talked to Town Hall, picked a route, put up fliers, found a T-shirt company, and started advertising for the 1st Annual Pima Turkey Trot. Fifty people showed up that Thanksgiving morning in 2006, and about $20 was put into an envelope afterwards to save for supplies needed for next year’s race.
As the race approached in 2007, Cody and Melinda decided to use the race as a tool to help earn money for the Pima Schools. They saw that budgets and funding were often a problem at the schools and thought that the race could help! They started soliciting different businesses to become race sponsors, featuring their logo or name on the back of the race shirts. That year the participants grew to 150, and $900 was donated to the schools! From there, the race has grown in participants and in the amount donated each year. The 9th Annual Pima Turkey Trot in 2014 grew to 822 participants and the amount of money raised for the schools over the last 9 years totaled $42,400. The money raised from the Pima Turkey Trot has been donated to various departments and needs in the schools including: Music Department, PE, Elementary Art, Jr. High Knowledge Bowl, Special Education, Pima High Football and Track, document cameras for the Elementary, Welding/Woods, FBLA, new playground equipment and Kindergarten shade, softball fence, and new weight room equipment.
What started out as two moms just wanting to run in a race on Thanksgiving Day before eating their pie has turned into a fun family tradition for many families in the Gila Valley as well as a way for the community to help the schools. Cody and Melinda still do all the leg work of advertising, getting sponsors, getting prizes, designing the shirts, and timing the race, but the payoff of the families having fun and the schools earning money has been a great combination. This upcoming Pima Turkey Trot will be the 10th year, and on the shirts it will say, “10 years and still runnin’!” More information on the Pima Turkey Trot, to register and participate or make a donation please visit www.pimaturkeytrot.com.