35th-annual McCarthy Bush YMCA Turkey Trot ready to run Thanksgiving morning in Davenport

Local News

The 35th-annual McCarthy Bush YMCA Turkey Trot is giving thanks for all its participants.

“We’re so excited to get everyone back together in person for this awesome family tradition,” Luis Leal, Turkey Trot Race Director for the YMCA of the Iowa Mississippi Valley, said in a Thursday release. “I’ve spoken to hundreds of people whose family traditions depend on getting together and coming downtown for a nice run or walk before the big Thanksgiving Day meal.”

The YMCA Turkey Trot takes place live and in-person on Thanksgiving morning (Thursday, Nov. 25) at the new Bittner YMCA on East 4th Street in Downtown Davenport. The 200-yard, 400-yd and 1-mile events begin at 8:30 a.m. The 5K and 5-mile events take off at 9 a.m.

The course mirrors many previous years’ layout, beginning on East 4th Street and heading west to Main Street, then north up, around and through Vander Veer Park, and back down Main before finishing at the same location between the YMCA and the Quad-City Times. The 5k course turns around just north of Locust Street.

Runners at the start of the YMCA Turkey Trot.

Thanks to lead sponsors McCarthy Bush, Rhythm City Casino, UnityPoint Health and Iowa American Water (who cover the operations of the event), all registrations go directly to the cause of supporting area children in early learning programs, students in summer camp, teens in mentoring programs, and families and seniors who are able to participate with YMCA memberships and classes.

“It’s really awesome seeing how the Turkey Trot not only ties together our entire regional community, but the entire mission of the YMCA,” said Leal. “Coming out of the pandemic, we’ve seen such an increased need for people of all ages and backgrounds to come together and experience healthy activities. We had a record number of scholarships for summer camp. Over 20% of our family memberships are receiving assistance, and 60% of our families participating in early learning and childcare only do so because of the support of events like the Turkey Trot.”

Since it began in 1986, over 60,000 registrations have made the Turkey Trot the YMCA of the Iowa Mississippi Valley’s top fundraiser. Over $2.2 million has been generated in direct support of local kids and families who need it the most. 

Among the thousands of stories related to the annual holiday tradition is Karen Martinez Hernandez.  Now a 12-year-old at John Deere Middle School in Moline, she first came into the YMCA Turkey Trot world as a recipient of a program that provided shoes for students in her elementary school running program.

Karen Martinez Hernandez, left, is a John Deere Middle School student in Moline.

When it was noticed how many of the kids wore old, broken down and poorly fitting shoes, the Y worked with another partner to allow each of the runners a new pair. This led to the students in the group getting a chance to run the Turkey Trot with a scholarship that paid their way. Karen got the opportunity, and she continued to fly! Now, two years later, she was selected to run at the state finals in Illinois. She even finished 2nd in conference with a time of 13:01. 

“It’s really beautiful,” said Leal. “The way we had YMCA advocates at the school who were able to reach out to me, and I was able to speak to Fleet Feet (shoe store in Davenport). While I was standing at the front desk of the Bettendorf Y having that conversation, one of our great donors Terry Blindt overheard me and decided to cover all of the costs so these kids who couldn’t afford nice shoes were all able to get a good, quality pair. It’s just incredible. It’s really everything that our YMCA, and this community, and Thanksgiving itself is all about.”

For more information and to register ($37 for the 1-mile, 5K and 5-mile runs), please visit ymcaimv.org.

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