PIMA — With a record attendance comes a record donation.
Pima Turkey Trot co-director Cody Marshall gave a short presentation to the Pima School Board at its Jan. 17 meeting and bestowed Superintendent Sean Rickert with an $8,000 check.
The money came from proceeds of the seventh annual race, which featured a record 679 runners and strong sponsor support.
The Thanksgiving Day 5K (3.1-mile) race and One-Mile Fun Run was started by Marshall and co-director Melinda Nelson in 2005 as a lark and attracted a humble 50 participants. The following year, they decided to solicit sponsors, and the number of participants has grown exponentially every year.
Once the event started to generate proceeds, the directors decided the Pima School District would be an ideal candidate to benefit. Past donations have gone to purchase much-needed equipment, uniforms and supplies and have benefited numerous groups from the choir and the football team to first-grade writing and the Junior High Knowledge Bowl.
"Every year, we've been able to donate some kind of money to different organizations in the school," Marshall said. "Thus far, it's been a great thing, and it's been exciting that we are able to help out the school."
This year, the $8,000 donation will be used to construct a shade structure to cover the kindergarten playground equipment, and $500 will go to the high school's Future Business Leaders of America program.
Rickert thanked Marshall for the donation and said the structure will benefit students and the community as a whole, because it will be available for public use while classes are not in session.
"When I look at that playground, especially in the summertime, I want the community to be able to use it," Rickert said.
He referenced the district's summer lunch program and said the children who accompany their parents just hang out under an awning to escape the blazing heat. Rickert said the donation from the community will, in turn, come back to benefit those in the community.
"They can't go play on the playground because it's blistering hot," Rickert said. "By putting a shade over that, the district can make that facility available to the community during the summer months so that kids can come and play."
Elementary Principal Joseph Jacobo also showed his appreciation for the support.
"I know the kindergarten is going to like that shade structure," he said. "It's really nice of the Turkey Trot to do that for us."
Newly elected Pima School Board President Joe Goodman praised Marshall for the Turkey Trot's efforts and said it was a classic example of how community members can make a difference in their public schools.
"These are people that, for whatever reason, probably wouldn't run for a board or anything like that," Goodman said, "but they're out there instead of complaining; they're generating their own money for their own interests and are making those parts of the school that they are interested in viable and very successful." "(We) greatly appreciate your efforts."
The Turkey Trot has become a family tradition in Pima, with numerous multigenerational entrants from all over the Gila Valley running and walking together in an effort to enjoy each other's company and burn off a few more calories before indulging in their Thanksgiving feast.