On Nov. 24 — the Sunday before Thanksgiving — Kirkland residents can participate in a 5K for a good cause.
That day, Kirkland nonprofit Hopelink is putting on its annual Turkey Trot. Commencing at Marina Park, the race starts at 9 a.m. and runs three miles. After participants reach Carillon Point, they will head back to the starting point. The race is complemented by a fair at Marina Park, which includes family activities, food trucks, a kid-friendly 600-meter dash and more.
“It’s really festive,” Kris Betker, Hopelink’s senior public relations specialist, said. “People come in costumes. They bring their dogs and their kids in strollers. It’s a really fun event.”
Since it started almost 20 years ago, the Turkey Trot has sought to be an inclusive and fun program. According to Betker, what makes it unique as a 5K is its welcoming of runners and walkers alike. But aside from its inclusivity, the Turkey Trot has a lasting impact on the community: proceeds from the event go to Hopelink, specifically toward its energy assistance efforts and holiday season food banks for residents in need.
“This is something you can do to support Hopelink…and participate in giving to the community locally,” Betker, who has been with Hopelink for almost a decade, said. “You don’t have to write a big check and send it in. You can come to downtown Kirkland and show your support.”
Tonia Brown, a community member and Hopelink volunteer, has both helped with and directly participated in the Turkey Trot for about 11 years with her husband. One of the things she likes about the event is how it spreads awareness about how Kirkland residents can help people in their neighborhoods.
“Raising awareness and visibility is important,” Brown said. “A lot of people don’t know what’s right there in their backyard, when their neighbors are in need.”
She added that it’s noteworthy that Hopelink has events like this. Not everything the nonprofit puts on is accessible on a wider community level, whether because of location, scheduling or other factors. The 5K, by contrast, is easier to get involved with.
Brown also likes doing the 5K, and currently runs with a team of family and friends known as the Giving Gobblers.
“I try to get as big of a group as I can…in recent years we’d have anywhere from 20-25 people on our team,” she said.
While Betker said it can sometimes be difficult getting the word out — an issue, she noted, that comes up for many events — she highlighted repeat attendance as being a contributing factor for why the event is successful.
“In my time it’s been really consistent in terms of attendance and just sort of community engagement and excitement,” Betker said. “We have about 1,500 people every year that sign up.”
Betker said something that’s stuck with her throughout the years is how many people flock to the Turkey Trot regardless of what it looks like outside.
“We’ve had a full range of weather for this event,” she said. “We’ve had clear blue skies, we’ve had snow, we’ve had rain, we’ve had wind. What I remember most is that the weather doesn’t seem to be a factor…you get there and it’s this atmosphere that’s just fun.”
Betker added that, due to the event’s longevity, it’s ultimately become a staple for a lot of people.
“It’s a great way to kick off the holiday season for a lot of families,” she said.