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Get Set for Virginia Run Turkey Trot

Proceeds Benefit Life with Cancer.

Get ready for the 18th annual Virginia Run Turkey Trot.

This traditional, Thanksgiving day event lets participants expend some calories before the big feast. And it raises money for a worthy cause.

PROCEEDS benefit Life with Cancer, Inova Health System's nonprofit program for cancer patients and their families. And this year's race is being run in honor of Brooks Jones, a Virginia Run resident who recently died of cancer.

"Life with Cancer has been in the community as long as we've been doing the race," said event chairman Dominic DeVincenzo of Virginia Run. "And many people who have been touched by cancer work on the race committee."

The Turkey Trot 5K will kick off Thursday, Nov. 23, at 8 a.m., immediately followed by the 2K fun walk. The running course is USATF-certified; both it and the 2K start and end at the Virginia Run Community Center, 15355 Wetherburn Court, off Route 29 and Pleasant Valley Road in Centreville.

Register or make donations at www.runwashington.com or at www.racepacket.com. Entry fee is $20, runners; and $13, walkers, by Nov. 19. Afterward, it's $22 and $15. There's NO race-day registration for the run, although walkers may still sign up.

The fee includes a commemorative T-shirt, post-race snacks and raffle participation. "This year, we've done something unique with the race logo," said DeVincenzo. "With the permission of the Fairfax County police, we've framed the logo with the badges of the two police officers [MPO Mike Garbarino and Det. Vicky Armel] who died in May. They'll be on all the T-shirts."

After all, said DeVincenzo, "I couldn't do this without the help of the state troopers and the county police. They help with both crowd and traffic control on race day and keep everyone safe."

The event takes place, rain, shine or snow, and parking is available at nearby Centreville Baptist Church and Bull Run Elementary. Turkey Trot is part of the Race Packet series. Runners will be timed via the Champion Chip, and results will be posted that evening on www.runwashington.com.

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.

Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully) and Del. Tim Hugo (R-40th) will be on hand to help kick things off. And Virginia Run resident Greg Richter — who each year provides the lion's share of the raffle prizes — will officially start the race.

More than 2,100 runners and 800 walkers participated in last year's Turkey Trot. And though most are from the local area, many come from as far away as Pennsylvania, Delaware, Florida and Georgia, as families gather to share Thanksgiving together.

TOP SPONSORS include: Carteret Mortgage, Koons of Manassas, Luck Stone, Mitchell Eye Institute, First Horizon Mortgage and Odyssey Travel. To contribute raffle items or monetarily, contact Bob Donnelley at 703-830-1179.

Fourteen people work nearly year-'round on DeVincenzo's Turkey Trot committee. However, volunteers are still needed to help with this year's race; call DeVincenzo at 703-830-7634.

Over the years, Turkey Trot has donated more than $300,000 to Life with Cancer, and last year's event raised $50,000. This time around, said DeVincenzo, "We'd like to make as much as $60,000. Life with Cancer has a wide variety of programs to help families mentally, psychologically and emotionally."

The programs are free and aren't just for those with cancer, but for those affected by it, such as parents, spouses and siblings. They enable people to express themselves not only in words, but via art, and some programs offer music for healing the mind, body and spirit.

Programs for children and teens help them cope and show their support of loved ones. Social and recreational activities are also available. And events such as Turkey Trot help provide the funding vital for Life with Cancer's continued operation. For more information, see www.lifewithcancer.org.