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Turkey Day Run

Instead of spending their time in their kitchens Thanksgiving morning, hundreds of county residents will be working up an appetite in a different way. Starting at 8:15 the morning of Nov. 23, they will be running in the Ashburn Farm Association's annual Thanksgiving Day race.

Held every year, the race is made up of a 10K, 5K and 2K Fun Run and is hosted by Crossroads United Methodist Church in Ashburn.

"We have had to change the route as the county became more developed, but this is the fifth year [runners] will be using the same route," Jen Score, the race's organizer, said. "It really is a wonderfully-developed event."

RUNNER ARE able to register either for the 10k or 5k race and, Score said, there is no age requirement for running. Teenagers and children under the age of 18 must get their parents' permission before running, however.

"It is really up to the individual whether they are able to run," Score said. "We've have children as young as 10 or 11."

The top-three male and female finishers in the 10K race will receive cash prizes of $300, $200 and $100, respectively. The top male and female finishers in the 5K race will receive $150, $100 and $50. The top finishers in all categories will receive medals as well.

The 2K Fun Run is open to anyone who wants to participate, Score said, but is designed for young children and families with strollers.

"Some people walk, some people run," Score said. "It is a way to be able to involve the whole family in the race."

During the past couple of years the race has brought out around 1,400 people, Score said, and this year they are capping the race at 1,500 runners. Crossroads hopes to raise $20,000 with the race this Thanksgiving.

ALL PROCEEDS will go to The HUMBLE United Methodist School, an orphanage and school founded by Crossroads in Lukojjo, Uganda.

In 1999, the United Methodist Church went to southern Uganda and have been working in the region since 2000, Score said. The mission was able to open the HUMBLE school in 2004.

In the years since it has opened, the school has grown to serve 190 children, most of whom were orphaned by HIV and AIDS or war. Of those, 130 students have been sponsored. When the school opened it housed nursery school through the fourth grade, Score said. The second year a fifth-grade class was added and last year a sixth-grade class was added.

"It is our commitment to get [the students] all the way through school," Score said. "So as they grow, so does the school."

Plans for the school call for the addition of classrooms and dormitories so that the population can eventually expand to 500 students. A medical clinic is also under construction. When it is completed it will serve not only the students, but also the surrounding communities.

Score said the money will go to the students and the operation of the school, including paying the staff, utilities, construction and food. It takes approximately $1,100 per year to keep one student in the school, including clothing and food.

"These children are now a part of us," Score said, "and we want them to continue to be educated throughout their lives."

For more information about the Thanksgiving Day race and how to get involved, visit the church's Web site at www.ecrossroadsumc.org.

"It is the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of kids who would otherwise live in poverty and never get a chance," Steve Freeman, director of communications for the church said.