By Carol South
Special to the Record-Eagle
TRAVERSE CITY — A Thanksgiving morning parade of walkers and runners is becoming a Traverse City tradition.
As registration fills for the Third Annual EverywhereUGO Traverse City Turkey Trot, organizers Brian and Enid Hagerty are ready for another banner year.
In 2008, the owners of EverywhereUGO transformed a small, informal Thanksgiving Day run into an event with legs.
With a goal of family-friendly fun and fundraising, their first event drew 462 participants. The couple's focused marketing outreach brought in four times the prior number of the former Turkey TART. The 2008 Turkey Trot also raised around $8,000 for area nonprofits, including the Grand Traverse Bay YMCA's capital campaign — a special cause for Brian Hagerty.
A year later, the Turkey Trot numbers nearly doubled: 986 participants generated $14,000 for the Grand Traverse Bay YMCA, TART Trails and other local charities.
"That was our goal, to double it and we did," said Enid Hagerty, noting part of the appeal is that families can share the activity together. She has fielded registration requests this year for 14 family members and other large groups.
As they gear up for another Turkey Trot — helped this year by a phalanx of volunteers — organizers expect another jump in participation and fundraising. Proceeds from this year's event will benefit the YMCA, TART Trails and the Traverse Bay Children's Advocacy Center.
"It's fun and it's a good donation — when you get those two things together, it's easy to write a check," said Brian Hagerty.
The family-friendly atmosphere of the Turkey Trot prompted Mary Skrocki of Suttons Bay to sign up along with her two children and five grandchildren. She decided that starting off Thanksgiving with a bout of exercise would be a perfect fit for the already active bunch.
"It will take off some calories so we can have an extra helping of turkey," Skrocki noted pragmatically.
Her goals transcend compensating for another spoonful of stuffing or second piece of pumpkin pie. Determined to keep up with her young grandchildren, Skrocki embraced physical fitness this summer. She placed first in her age group at the Senior Triathlon Games in September and is preparing for the Michigan Senior Olympics in May.
Skrocki has a broad vision in mind for Thursday's event.
"Not only to have my best time for a 5K, but most of all the opportunity to participate in this with my children and grandchildren," she said.
On the receiving end of the fundraiser, TART Trails appreciates an event "where everyone wins," noted Missy Luyk, who volunteers as the group's events coordinator.
"There are a lot of great details that are part of the event," she said, pointing to the concurrent canned food drive for the Trinity Lutheran Food Pantry. "Thanksgiving is a day off, a day of family and food, so it's a great way to have an event and benefit three nonprofits."