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It's Almost Time for Turkey Trot

Participating in the Virginia Run Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day is a great way to work off calories before the big feast. It also raises much-needed money for a worthy cause.

All proceeds benefit Life with Cancer, Inova Health System's nonprofit program for cancer patients and their families. And this year's race is dedicated to Lynda Gubin, a Virginia Run resident who died of cancer in March.

"IT STARTED off to help neighbors, and it's stayed that way," said event chairman Dominic DeVincenzo of Virginia Run. And in the past 13 years, it's been able to contribute some $300,000 to Life with Cancer.

This year's 5K race and 2K walk is the 17th annual, and DeVincenzo's been associated with it for 13 years. "When I first started, my goal was to raise $10,000, and everybody thought I was crazy," he said.

Last year, he set a new fund-raising goal of $50,000, "thinking it would take me three of four years to get there," he said. "But my sponsors really increased their level of support and we increased the number of participants in both the run and the walk."

More than 2,100 runners and 800 walkers participated in the 2004 Turkey Trot, helping DeVincenzo meet his goal. This time around, Nov. 24, he's shooting for $65,000.

The 5K running course is USATF-certified; both it and the 2K walk will begin at 8 a.m. at the Virginia Run Community Center, 15355 Wetherburn Court, off Route 29 and Pleasant Valley Road in Centreville.

The event takes place, rain, shine or snow; parking is available at nearby Centreville Baptist Church and Bull Run Elementary. Race results will be posted on www.runwashington.com.

Register or make donations at www.runwashington.com or at www.racepacket.com. Entry fee is $20, runners; and $13, walkers, by Nov. 20. Afterward, it's $22 and $15. There's NO race-day registration for the run. Fee includes a T-shirt designed by Westfield High senior Christina Kim. Post-race snacks and raffle participation.

Prizes are awarded to the fastest two males and females overall and in the Virginia Run residents' category. The top two runners in various age categories also receive prizes.

Top sponsors include Carteret Mortgage, First Horizon Home Loans, Luck Stone, Mitchell Eye Institute, Northern Virginia Oncology Group and Odyssey Travel. To donate money or raffle items, call Bob Donnelley at 703-830-1179.

MORE THAN a dozen people work on DeVincenzo's Turkey Trot committee on a regular basis. They start in May by selecting the official logo and making the race dedication. "We also get input from the community about how we can do things better," said DeVincenzo.

Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully) and Del. Tim Hugo (R-40th) will help kick things off, and DeVincenzo hopes to have 2,300-2,500 runners registered for the 5K. So far, he said, he's running slightly ahead of last year's number of registrants at this point.

Although most are local, many participants come from as far away as Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Turkey Trot is part of the Race Packet series and, said DeVincenzo, "People usually come great distances to participate in Race Packet events." Even coming from Germany to run is his children's former au pair.

"I'm just hoping for good weather," he said. So what makes him return as chairman, each year? "I get more out of it than I give," said DeVincenzo. "Working with the people on the committee and those who come out for the race is a great experience for me. And turning over that money to Life with Cancer is a thrill."

Liz Bredthauer, special-events assistant for Life with Cancer, noted that its programs are free and not just for those with cancer, but for those affected by it. Classes include, for example, relaxation and imagery, combining music and art.

"Some people would rather express themselves through artwork, than words, and it often helps them take that first step toward [doing so]," she explained. "They also listen to music for healing the mind, body and spirit."

Programs for children and teens help them cope and let them know how to show their support of loved ones. Social and recreational activities are also offered. And events like Turkey Trot are wonderful, said Bredthauer, because "Life with Cancer depends so much on these civic organizations to support all these programs."

See www.lifewithcancer.org or call Glenda Selvage at 703-208-5610. A newsletter and monthly calendar of events are posted on the Web site.