By Jewell Hillery
RIDGELAND, MS (WLBT) – Hundreds of people spent the first part of their Thanksgiving by hitting the pavement with their running shoes for the first ever Turkey Day 8K Race. While the race was an incentive for many to burn off some calories, it meant a lot more than getting into shape.
Early Thursday morning, dozens of people lined up outside of the Fleet Feet store in Ridgeland to prepare for a five mile race.
"My mother-in-law encouraged it, the whole family to come out and do it and I like running," said Jesse Hoy.
Race participant Kyle Sephton added, "My wife kind of talked me into it, we'll be eating all day, so I figured we'd get a run in, in the morning, so I could eat all afternoon."
Runners, walkers and joggers took off on U.S. 51 at 8 a.m. While everyone participating certainly lost some calories, the purpose behind this race served a much larger need in the community.
All of the proceeds go to an organization called "Mentoring Children for Tomorrow." The program helps kids with parents in prison.
"There is a big need, there are 20,000 plus children in the state of Mississippi that have an incarcerated parent and those children are 72% more likely to be incarcerated as adults," said Tonja Murphy, mentoring services director.
Helping kids in need was all Karla Case needed to know to encourage her family, including her three girls, to give back to the community.
"It's kind of hard to get up early especially for kids on their school day off, so I'm trying to teach them to get up and get out and do something for someone else," said Case.
Organizers only anticipated about 150 people showing up, but on this Thanksgiving, nearly 600 gave back to the community.
"Anytime you can do something fun while supporting and helping other people it's hard to turn that down," said Hoy.
"People just love to get a good workout in, in the morning, before Thanksgiving and to be able to do it for a cause like what we're doing it for I think is really cool," said Leslie McLin, owner of Fleet Feet Sports.
Over the next several years, a goal of "Mentoring Children for Tomorrow" is to match 225 kids with mentors.
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