GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — More than 4,500 runners participated in Grand Rapids’ 30th annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day.

“Oh my gosh, like a race that’s been around for 30 years, its sustained all the things. Three moons, COVID, and here we are with a stellar year, we are knocking it out of the park,” said Holly Visser, development director for the Grand Rapids Public Schools Foundation.

The 5K race, sponsored by Blue Care Network, started off at 8:30 a.m. from at the main entrance of Van Andel Arena on Fulton Street downtown. Runners and walkers of all ages raised money to help Grand Rapids Public School students participate in extracurricular sports.

“The Turkey Trot is our biggest, as the foundation is concerned,” said Visser. “We service the charitable arm for the school, and we fundraise for five pillars and sports is our biggest pillar. This is our largest event to support students, so they don’t have to pay to play.”

Corinne Eversole of Grand Rapids said she runs with her two children at the YMCA and decided to bring them out for the Turkey Trot. Her kids ran the mini trot for kids that routed around the block.

“We were just looking for a fun way to get out, start Thanksgiving, a little exercise before the feast,” said Eversole.

“I think it was pretty good because instead of having to run ten laps at the Y I got to just run on a road and see new things,” said her son, Brennan Eversole.

Kendrick Webb has been running the Turkey Trot since 2017 but has not since the pandemic. He says he does it for his health and to support the community.

“The Grand Rapids Public Schools have got to be proud of everybody coming out here today, and we’re all out here to support the Grand Rapids schools and we all like to run, so let’s keep it going,” said Webb.

In the mix of runners was Celesce Coleman and Syriana Hodges, both three-sport student athletes at GRPS.  

“Its just great seeing everybody come out here and actually get involved with it and helping us with our program. It actually means a lot, especially to our sports,” Coleman said.  

“It was actually tiring but I did it so I’m glad of myself, I’m glad of everybody that did it,” said Hodges.  

It was both athletes’ first time joining in the trot and seeing the support from the community didn’t go unnoticed. Both have been directly impacted by what this event makes possible.    

“It gives us a lot of help and motivation to actually finish what we like to do, which is thus far any sport we like to play. So it does mean a lot when we see everybody come out here and have fun and run all together,” Coleman said.

To some, the Turkey Trot may just be another 5K. For those who lives are affected as a result of the money raised, it is much more than just another race.   

“We come to this from a place of gratitude and appreciation for the support of the community and their continued love over all of these 30 years. It’s made it what it’s truly become — a family, community-supported event,” Visser said.  

Last year, the trot raised over $100,000 for GRPS with 4,259 participants. Organizers said they expect to raise a large amount again since 4,504 people ran this year.