Turkey Trot donation

Pima Unified Schools Superintendent Sean Rickert, center, accepts a $10,000 check from Pima Turkey Trot co-directors, from left, Cody Marshall and Melinda Nelson. Starting next year, at least $5,000 will be placed into a scholarship endowment fund with an in-kind match by developer Ted Prina.

PIMA — A 5k (3.1-mile) race and 1-mile fun run, started as a lark by two “moms” in Pima, has become an annual tradition and soon will create a lasting legacy for Pima Schools and students.

Pima Turkey Trot co-directors Cody Marshall and Melinda Nelson were on hand at the Pima Unified Schools Governing Board meeting Thursday to present the school with a $10,000 check from proceeds from the annual Thanksgiving Day event.

The event has donated its proceeds since its second year beginning with a $1,000 donation, and as the participants have grown so has the donation. This year’s check will go to replacing the elementary school’s playground equipment. Last year, the bulk of the donation ($8,000) went to the construction of a shade structure to cover the kindergarten playground equipment.

After the check presentation, Pima Superintendent Sean Rickert reported that Marshall and Nelson have agreed to team up with the Arizona Community Foundation and Ted Prina to use Turkey Trot funds to start a community foundation endowment to provide scholarships for Pima students who wish to continue their education after graduating high school.

The Turkey Trot committed to donating $5,000 each year for the next five years to the foundation and Prina, who is a local developer, has agreed to match the donation up to $25,000, according to Rickert. Each year, five percent of the account (the interest the income generates) will be awarded as scholarships.

Students will be eligible for the scholarships in a variety of ways, including for use at universities, colleges or technical schools, according to Nelson. The foundation will also accept donations from those in the community who wish to help build the endowment.

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“This way, it has a legacy to it and that money that we raise through the Turkey Trot will always be there to help students from Pima to go on to college,” Rickert said.

Marshall and Nelson said with the success of the Turkey Trot they felt comfortable with pledging $5,000 per year. That way, the money will be used in perpetuity to assist Pima students while allowing the group to still use leftover proceeds for other needs at the school. They said while the Turkey Trot event has grown significantly, its still just the two of them who are in charge and they wanted to have a more permanent placement of the funds where they wouldn’t have to make a yearly decision how to use the proceeds.

“It’s really exciting,” Marshall said. “We couldn’t do it without the community support and donations from businesses.”

“The business donations really help as far as the money that is raised,” Nelson added.

From its inception of about 50 participants, the Pima Turkey Trot, which is held Thanksgiving morning, drew a record 879 participants at its eighth annual event last November. The event has donated about $33,000 to Pima Schools since 2007.

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