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It’s Time for Turkey Trot

Raises money for Life with Cancer.

— Each year around this time, many people’s thoughts turn to turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie — and the Virginia Run Turkey Trot. This year’s 24th annual 5K run and 2K walk will be held Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, at 8 a.m. at the Virginia Run Community Center in Centreville.

Both courses travel through Virginia Run, and the event is being held in memory of resident Bonnie Huneke, who succumbed to cancer earlier this year. All proceeds from the Turkey Trot benefit Life with Cancer, INOVA Health System’s nonprofit program for cancer patients and their families.

Last year, more than 4,000 runners and more than 700 walkers participated. This year, registration in the 5K is limited to the first 4,000 entries; the walk has unlimited entries. Register online at www.virginiarun.com/turkeytrot.

“It’s just ordinary people in a small community trying to help others.” — Dominic DeVincenzo, event co-chairman

Entry fees are 5K, $30; walk, $20; participants receive a cotton, short-sleeved T-shirt (entrants must pick up their shirts in person), plus post-race snacks and raffle tickets. Prizes are awarded to the three fastest males and females overall and in the Virginia Run residents’ category. The top three runners in various age categories also receive prizes.

“Last year, we had people from as far away as California, Ohio, Kentucky, New York and New Jersey participating,” said Dominic DeVincenzo, event co-chair with Laurie Horstmann. “And this year, registration is really strong again.”

The 2011 Turkey Trot donated $83,000 to Life with Cancer. Altogether, the event has contributed close to $900,000. “My goal this year is to raise $100,000,” said DeVincenzo. “If we do, then that total will break $1 million.”

Life with Cancer helps families mentally, psychologically and emotionally. Its programs are for those with cancer and those affected by it, and children and teens learn how to cope and to show their support of loved ones.

The 5K 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.

“Because of trail construction, we’ve had to reroute the walk,” said DeVincenzo. “So half of Wetherburn Drive will be shut down to traffic between 8-8:45 a.m. But people will still be able to get in and out of the community.”

The commemorative T-shirts were designed by Sabrina Yedigarian, who majored in graphics design at GMU and is the daughter-in-law of race-committee member Mary Mitchell. The white shirts are adorned with a drawing of a five-color turkey running.

The event takes place, rain, shine or snow, and parking is available at nearby Centreville Baptist Church, Centreville Presbyterian Church, Bull Run Elementary and Korean Central Presbyterian Church (KCPC), all off Route 29. Runners are electronically timed and results posted on www.DCTiming.com.

The main sponsor is Mitchell Eye Institute. Other major sponsors are Ourisman Chantilly Toyota, Edelman Financial Services, KCPC, Virginia Runner, Elan Tech Systems Inc., Odyssey Travel and American Windows and Siding of Va. Inc.

Race preparations have been underway since May and 150 people will help out on the big day. For example, Greg Richter is the announcer and heads up the raffle, Virginia State Trooper Dean Jones is in charge of traffic control and Fairfax County Police Officer Michelle Enright handles crowd control, helps with traffic and coordinates the walk.

But volunteers are still needed for race day and to help stuff the runners’ packets and do other needed tasks, at the community center, this Saturday, Nov. 17, from 9 a.m.-noon. To lend a hand, call DeVincenzo at 703-830-7634.

In his 19th year as event chairman, for DeVincenzo, it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the Turkey Trot. “It’s just ordinary people in a small, local community trying to help others,” he said.

Basically, he explained, “This is something that everyone involved in it really enjoys doing,” he said. “It’s a community event, and a lot of us have been touched personally by cancer or know someone who has been. So it strikes close to home and you want to do something to help.” Besides, added DeVincenzo, “It’s a fun, family event where people can get a little exercise before stuffing themselves with turkey and watching football the rest of the day.”