Since premiering at Pleasanton's Ken Mercer Sports Park in 2015, the Tri-Valley Turkey Burn Family Fun Run has played multiple roles for its participants, its Rotary club organizer and the region as a whole.
The 5K/10K run, walk or stroll on Thanksgiving morning will rev up the metabolism of every participant to burn more calories than normal as they begin their holiday.
In addition, the Turkey Burn is a fundraiser supporting youth services sponsored by Pleasanton North Rotary. The club's six youth services program reflects the 72-member club's historic role advocating for Rotary International's commitment to youth development and leadership training in the Tri-Valley and around the world.
Most of all, the Turkey Burn is a community-wide celebration where families, friends and people of all ages share the spirit of Thanksgiving. More than 2,000 walkers and runners are expected to again enjoy describing why they are thankful through written messages or drawings appearing on their iconic Turkey Burn racing bibs.
Over the years, Turkey Burn participants have learned that sharing in this way is fun and can even be inspirational. Everyone has an opportunity to compare and comment on their own and everyone else's messages at the event. A large portion of the staging area will be set aside for tables, chairs and boxes of color pens and crayons, so even last-minute arrivals can create their own personalized messages.
To illustrate what we mean, the several public and not-so-public figures from Pleasanton responded to our request to answer the question "What are you thankful for?" Here's what they said:
Karla Brown, mayor of Pleasanton: "I am proud and thankful that I am a part of a loving family. As the mayor of Pleasanton, I am thankful for our generous volunteers and supporters that strive to provide food, shelter and much-needed hugs to those in need, not just for a day, but throughout the year."
Gina Channell Wilcox, president/publisher, Pleasanton Weekly: "I am thankful for my family and friends, my health and a profession that allows me to make a difference. As the publisher of the Pleasanton Weekly, I am thankful we are part of a caring and engaged community and for the readers who support us. I am also thankful for my colleagues and honored to be part of a team of professionals who work hard every day to make the Weekly a credible and respected news source."
Maurice Dissells, founder/executive chief, Oyo Restaurant, Pleasanton: "I am thankful for my 'Grandma Oyo'. She passed 30 years ago, but the whole concept of the restaurant and the dishes we serve came from her. I'm thankful for my sons. Sam is my partner and CFO. He kept us solvent during the pandemic. My older son, Leicester, came up with some very good ideas for our takeout options and family meal packages that were very popular while they were all we were allowed to sell.
"And I'm also thankful for my community and for my employees. Our staff has been with us since we first opened three years ago. Without them, this restaurant wouldn't still exist."
Kevin Greenlee, youth exchange chair, Pleasanton North Rotary: "I am thankful for my international family of Rotary exchange students and their families. By hosting foreign students for an entire year and seeing our own high school kids from Pleasanton mature by living and learning overseas, they create lasting relationships of love and respect, while they learn skills they can use for a lifetime."
Liz Perez-Howe, CEO, Axis Community Health: "We are thankful for all we learned through nearly three years of the COVID-19 pandemic. We learned how fortunate we were to be in a supportive community. It was through such support that we could test and vaccinate 25,000 community members and provide primary care for those in need. We were also grateful for our amazing staff that stood by us through those difficult years.
"And we are thankful for our patients. They trust us. They know we are looking out for their best interests, and they continue to come to us for their health."
Gina Piper, CEO, Elation Realty in Pleasanton: "I am thankful for my health, family, friends, Rotary family and the neighborhood where I live. As a life-long Pleasanton resident and 27-year realtor-broker, I am thankful for the trust and respect I feel from so many in the community. I just love the city leadership, the schools I attended, sports programs where I competed, our rich local history, the downtown, and how we care for our city and one another."
Joe Testa, chief, Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department: "I am thankful for the opportunity to serve this great community. I'm thankful for the men and women of the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department. I work with the best team anywhere.
"I'm personally thankful for a healthy group of friends and family members and for my own health. It has been a great year."
Turkey Burn details
To register: Visit the website, trivalleyturkeyburn.org.
Fees: $10 for adults, $5 for children (ages 10-17) and free for kids under 10.
Souvenirs/donations: Turkey Burn T-shirts, caps and other gear available for donations on the website. Participation medals awarded to everyone at the finish line.
Swag/bib pickup: Convenient, drive-thru pickup from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday (Nov. 23) at Ken Mercer Sports Park (5800 Parkside Drive in Pleasanton). Follow signs to pickup booths.
Event info: Gate at Ken Mercer Sports Park will open at 7:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Free parking available in designated lots.
Food donations and event schedule: Tri-Valley Haven Food Pantry will accept donations of nonperishable, non-expired food items at the Turkey Burn entrance. Free coffee will be served. After supervised warmup, the 10K event will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday (Nov. 24); 5K runners/walkers will follow at 9:10 a.m. Everyone will finish by 11:30 a.m.
Editor's note: Jim Brice is a writer, photographer, Pleasanton resident and member of Pleasanton North Rotary.