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Two Weeks Until Turkey Trot Race

Just two weeks remain until the 14th annual Virginia Run Turkey Trot 5K run and 2K walk. It will be held on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 28, at 8 a.m.

A popular race that always draws a large crowd, it begins and ends at the Virginia Run Community Center on Wetherburn Court, off Route 29 in Centreville. Proceeds go to Life with Cancer, Inova Health System's slate of programs for cancer patients and their families and caregivers.

"Last year's Turkey Trot raised over $33,000 for Life with Cancer," said event chairman Steve Boyles. In the 11 years that Turkey Trot has benefited the program, he said, it's contributed more than $200,000.

This year's race is in honor of 10-year Virginia Run resident Bill Morrisette who died, Sept. 6, of brain cancer. He left a wife, Geri, and five children, twins Patrick and Stacy, now 13; daughter Lisa, 11; and twins Kevin and Scott, 7.

A contracts director with Northrop Grumman, in January 1999, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He underwent operations, chemotherapy and radiation, but slowly deteriorated — especially in the last two years.

Pleased that the 2002 Turkey Trot is dedicated to her late husband, Geri Morrisette said the family's honored. Traditionally, the race is run in honor of a community resident and, said Morrisette, "The part that's really sad is that there's always someone from Virginia Run who's died of cancer, each year."

Boyles agrees and, like her, wishes it wasn't so. "We'd come almost a whole year without anyone in the community dying of cancer," he said. "So [the race] will be a celebration of Bill's life — especially his life before cancer."

The USATF-certified race goes on, rain, shine or snow, and prizes will be awarded to the top two males and females overall and the top two Virginia Run residents in the 5K. Registration is $18/runners; $13/walkers by Nov. 22. After that date, the fees are $20 and $15, respectively. Register online at www.runwashington.com. Call 703-818-0052.

Calling Life with Cancer a "wonderful program," Morrisette said that, for three years, she and Bill participated in its monthly, brain-tumor support meetings. "It wasn't a big sob-fest — it was a lot of exchange of information," she said. And the couples helped each other, along the way.

"When he was doing well, I'd see the other people who were not, and I'd realize, 'Wow, we're really lucky,'" said Morrisette. "Then, as he didn't do well, we gave a lot of information and support to others who were in the throes of early diagnosis."

The couples would tell each other about doctors, medication and hospitals. Bill had gone to Duke University Medical Center, so he talked about his experience there.

"As I watched Bill deteriorate at the end, I'd [already] watched others go through the same thing, so I had an inkling of [what to expect]," said Morrisette. "The nurse who moderated the meetings was a wonderful source of support, and she was on his floor at Inova Fairfax Hospital at the end. It was nice having a friend there."

Morrisette started walking in the Turkey Trot, eight years ago, when she was pregnant with her second set of twins. And they all began walking in it as a family, about five years ago — even before Bill was diagnosed — so they could "support a good cause and start the day off right."

A couple years ago, because of weakness on his left side, related to his illness, Bill had difficulty walking upright and listed to the left during the Turkey Trot. But Geri just walked on that side to help keep him up, and he was able to finish — proudly.

Morrisette said she and the children are "doing OK" since Bill's death, and school and sports keep them all busy. The children are receiving counseling, and Morrisette may send them to Life with Cancer's grief support group in the spring.

Meanwhile, they'll participate, as usual, in the upcoming Turkey Trot. "We'll be there again, this year," said Morrisette. "My 13-year-old son will run it, and the rest of us will walk."

Besides the other Web site, people may register for Turkey Trot via the entry blank in Centre View (below) or by downloading one at www.lifewithcancer.org. There's no runner registration on race day, and the field is limited to the first 2,000 run entrants. Turkey Trot is part of the RacePacket series.

All entrants will be eligible for door prizes, gift certificates and merchandise donated by local merchants and by Virginia Run's Greg Richter. Glory Days Grill is giving out 50 gift certificates for $20 each to all age-bracket winners, besides the paperweight awards they usually receive. And Pizza Hut is offering special coupons earmarking 20 percent of certain purchases to Life with Cancer.

Carteret Mortgage Co. is the major sponsor; others include Witten Laser Eye, Williams Management Co. Inc., Glory Days Grill, Centre View and Luck Stone Corp. Cox Farms is donating apples, and Propel — flavored, vitamin-enriched water — will be available to runners after the race, besides regular bottled water.

Registration at the Virginia Run Community Center is Tuesday, Nov. 26, 6-8:30 p.m.; Wednesday, Nov. 27, 3-8:30 p.m.; and Thursday, Nov. 28 (walkers only), 6:30-7:30 a.m. Participants receive custom-designed, commemorative T-shirts. Capital Running Co. will compile the 5K results. Finishers' results will be mailed; also see www.runwashington.com.