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Turkey Trot raises money for Special Olympics

October 26, 2006

Benjamin Franklin would be proud of the UW-River Falls health and human performance department.

Even though Franklin’s idea for a turkey as the national bird did not take off, UWRF has embraced the bird commonly known as Thanksgiving dinner with the eighth annual Turkey Trot.

Set for Saturday, Nov. 4, the 5 kilometer road race and 1 mile walk promise “a picturesque journey through the UWRF campus,” and is open for people of all ages, with age groups ranging from 12 and younger to 50 and older, according to an event brochure.

Although pre-registration ended Saturday, participants can still enter on race day at the Knowles Center from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. with a $17 single-entry fee and a $12 fee for children ages 12 and younger.

Student Stacy Dekkers, whose Sport, Fitness and Recreation Management class puts on the Turkey Trot, is co-leader of the event and said she hopes UWRF students and people in the community will participate in the event as their entrance fees help raise money for the Special Olympics.

Donating the proceeds of the Turkey Trot is nothing new.

“Every year the money goes to a different organization,” Dekkers said.

While UWRF seniors Nick Lapacinski and Jake Halls have their eyes on the first place prize in their age division -- a frozen turkey -- both men said raising money for the Special Olympics is a good reason to run.

“I’m not so much worried about getting a turkey, but giving something back,” Halls said. Lapacinski, 21, agreed with Halls and said the frozen turkey trophy is a good incentive to get people to venture out in the usually cold November weather.

“It would have to be a good size turkey for this time of year,” Lapacinski said, as he spoke about what it would take to get him to run outside in November.

Dekkers is aware the weather may not cooperate, so she and her class are providing T-shirts for Turkey Trot participants not only to remember the event but to protect against inclement conditions. 

In addition to free T-shirts, planning the event has been a learning experience for Dekkers, a health and human performance major.

“It has taught me a lot about behind the scenes,” she said.

As a Student Health Services health educator, Keven Syverson is familiar with the pressure of orchestrating an event like the Turkey Trot, and he knows it is an important opportunity for UWRF students, like those in Dekkers’ class.

“These are future coaches working with people,” Syverson said. “It is a great learning experience.”

With raising money for the Special Olympics as a main goal of the Turkey Trot, Syverson said the event has additional benefits with “physical activity and trying to increase that among students and faculty on campus to get out there and move a little bit.”

Although first place prizes for each age group are awarded, Dekkers does not want people to think the Turkey Trot is only for serious runners.

“Don’t feel intimidated,” she said. “It is a fun run.”

Syverson said he hopes the environment will bring participants out.

“It is a nice opportunity to see campus and do something healthy,” he said.

For Dekkers, the combination of frozen turkeys, raising money for the Special Olympics and enjoying a morning run leaves her with one message for those thinking of participating: “It will be a lot of fun, so everyone should do it.”