Thanksgiving in Centreville means the Virginia Run Turkey Trot, and this year is no exception. The 14th annual 5K run and 2K walk will kick off Thursday, Nov. 28, at 8 a.m.
Proceeds go to Life with Cancer, Inova Health System's slate of programs for cancer patients and their families and caregivers. And the 2002 race is dedicated to Virginia Run's Bill Morrisette, who died of brain cancer, Sept. 6, at age 47, leaving a wife and five children.
In the past 11 years, the Turkey Trot has raised more than $200,000 for Life with Cancer, and the event recently received an award from the Inova Health System Foundation for contributing more money than any other community group.
"The [Turkey Trot] committee has had a dedicated membership," said Kathy Ciro, Life with Cancer's development officer. "They're very diligent and committed. And since a lot of people [in Virginia Run] have been impacted by cancer, they know of our services and have used them."
The USATF-certified race goes on, rain, shine or snow. It starts and ends at the Virginia Run Community Center on Wetherburn Court, off Route 29 in Centreville. 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. Afterward, it's $20 and $15, respectively.
Register via the entry blank in Centre View or at www.runwashington.com. Call 703-818-0052. (No runner registration on race day; field is limited to first 2,000 run entrants). Entrants are eligible for door prizes, gift certificates and merchandise donated by local merchants and Virginia Run's Greg Richter.
Registration at the Virginia Run Community Center is Nov. 26, 6-8:30 p.m.; Nov. 27, 3-8:30 p.m.; and Nov. 28 (walkers only), 6:30-7:30 a.m. Race-day parking is at Centreville Baptist Church and Bull Run Elementary.
Participants receive custom-designed, commemorative T-shirts, and this year's shirts will honor badge No. 968 belonging to Virginia State Trooper Mark Cosslett, 40, who was killed, Oct. 23, while riding his motorcycle on duty on I-95 in Newington. He was on the shoulder when a truck driver trying to avoid traffic congestion veered to the right and struck him. He was thrown from his motorcycle and died at the scene.
Cosslett was a motorcycle officer under Virginia Run's Dean Jones (also a state trooper) and, every year, Cosslett helped direct traffic during Turkey Trot. Cosslett lived in Alexandria and had been a state trooper for 16 years; he and his wife Leslie had two children, ages 2 and 3.
"He was active in many charities, including Special Olympics and Turkey Trot," said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell. "Everybody's still grieving his loss."
As for Life with Cancer, it serves an average of 1,000 patients and family members a month. "It gives [them] an opportunity to reach out and share with each other," said Ciro. "They lend each other tremendous support."
Life with Cancer representatives also speak at schools, churches, civic and community groups and businesses. To request a speaker, call 703-698-2820. For information about classes, see www.lifewithcancer.org.
Plans are afoot to build a spacious, new Life With Cancer family center. "It'll have a more home-like setting — less like an office — where people will feel comfortable coming and sharing their experiences with cancer," said Ciro. "It's a couple years away, but we've started fund-raising and are excited about it."
She praised the organization's "wonderful health-care community of doctors, nurses, nutritionists and physical therapists" who donate their time and talents to provide detailed information to families through educational and supportive groups. For example, doctors discuss the latest treatment options.
And Turkey Trot plays a major role in it all. "Every year, their donation means many programs that wouldn't otherwise be available," said Ciro. "For that, we're especially appreciative. I feel fortunate to be affiliated with Life with Cancer because we can be a beacon of hope for so many people when they feel frightened and alone — and that's because of the great community support."
Steve Boyles is in his third year as Turkey Trot chairman and, though it's an arduous task, he keeps plugging away. Referring to statistics that one in four people will deal with cancer in their lifetime, he said that's why it's important that everyone do what he or she can to help those providing care.
"The work that Life with Cancer does just has to go on — and the only way it can is to have money donated," explained Boyles. "Their staff helps people — and they do a good job."