WINDHAM TURKEY TROT BACKGROUND
The Windham Turkey Trot began in 1995 as a benefit for The
Shepherd's Food Pantry and a way to have a fun family event while burning off a
few calories before the Thanksgiving feasting begins. Our original slogan was, "Late enough to get the turkey in the oven, quick enough to get back to baste it!" :-)
We have two different courses, 3 miles and 5 miles that meander through the Blossom Road neighborhood, starting at 9:00 am on Thanksgiving morning. Participants run, walk, bike, rollerblade, roll their wheelchair or are pushed and pulled in strollers and wagons. Individuals and families with their visitors, ranging in age from 2 weeks to 98 years, have made the Turkey Trot part of their Thanksgiving tradition. We trot regardless of weather conditions.
Our first year we invited people from the neighborhood and 50 people joined us; in 2012 there were 1,303 trotters. We collected food in 1995 & 1996. In 1997 we began to ask for monetary donations; 100% of which was given to the Shepherd's Food Pantry until 2010 when we began sharing proceeds with Windham Helping Hands, another worthwhile charitable organization. In 2011 we also added Family Promise of Greater Rockingham County as a beneficiary. They are another local organization working to provide temporary housing for homeless families. Many shelters do not allow children, so this will help to take care of a serious need.
The cost to participate in the Turkey Trot since 1997 has been a monetary donation; the amount is up to each participant. We don't want to prevent people from participating because they couldn't afford the typical registration fee of $25 that comes with most races. This is especially true since some groups show up with as many as 15 people who are in town for the holiday. As a result our typical donation has a wide range - from $10 to an amazing $500. As of 2012 we have raised $116,272.01 for charity.
We pride ourselves on the fact that no event expenses are taken from the donations received. 100% of each contribution goes to local charities. Event expenses are covered by our sponsors.
We began offering long-sleeved t-shirts in 2004, as a way to celebrate our 10th Turkey Trot. They were quite popular and became an annual treat in 2006 when Rockingham Orthopaedics magnanimously offered to be our sponsor. In 2011 Windham Orthodontics joined as a sponser, generously offering to pay for additional shirts and some of the other expenses associated with producing the Turkey Trot. This year the first 450 people to make a minimum donation of $15 per shirt will be first in line to receive the coveted long sleeved shirts. :-)
The Turkey Trot is a totally unofficial race, though there are mile markers and water at the finish. The official timer is our kitchen clock on a step ladder. Some people are intimidated at the thought of participating in a "race"; the reality is that only about 30% of trotters actually run.
Once people come to the Trot they usually keep coming. Everyone has a great time; friends and neighbors chat while strolling around the neighborhood, returning college students enjoy a mini reunion with friends, younger children like biking among the excitement, and we always see a few competitive runners.