The spirit of Thanksgiving has lived on in Oyster Bay months after over 300 runners raced through Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park last Thanksgiving Day as part of the eighth annual Oyster Bay Turkey Trot.
John Quirk, who has been organizing the annual Oyster Bay Turkey Trot — a marathon that runs on Thanksgiving Day — and Oyster Bay Turkey Trot board member Danielle Taylor, presented checks for $4,500 to local organizations on Feb. 11.
Friends of the Bay, an environmental protection organization in Oyster Bay, the Oyster Bay Main Street Association, Oakcliff Sailing, a non-profit that supports sailing athletes, and the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary were among the recipients.
“There’s a lot of good things I can say about this program,” said Heather Johnson, the executive director of Friends of the Bay. “One is that we were allotted to be one of the beneficiaries of the race. The fact that they actually had a race in 2020 was pretty amazing and it goes to show you how sincere these races are that they want to continue despite not only the Covid times, but it was a pretty miserable day. It was chilly and rainy.”
She believes many of the runners showed up because they knew the money they would raise would go to local non-profits that support the community.
“They all appreciate it,” Quirk said, referring to the recipients. “They all help out. Friends of the Bay and Oakcliff usually give us volunteers the day of the race, so anything that we raise from the Turkey Trot stays in Oyster Bay and next year, it’ll be even better.”
Quirk has been operating the Oyster Bay Turkey Trot for five years, rearranged the course to stay in Oyster Bay instead of going into neighboring communities. He also wanted to make sure the money raised went to Oyster Bay charities like Oakcliff Sailing, Friends of the Bay and the Oyster Bay Main Street Association.
Supporting organizations that not only help the environment, but also support Oyster Bay’s business community, is a way of keeping the money in town, Quirk said.
“Every year since then we’ve been growing and then in , we almost cracked 1,000 people,” Quirk said. “We were hoping there would be that this year, but then Covid hit and we ran into a lot of different obstacles.”
Despite the obstacles, Quirk was able to get a permit to run in Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park.
“We decided, instead of cancelling the race this year, let’s try to get something in the park manageable to a 5K without people bumping into each other,” Quirk said. “We ended up with a 4K race inside the park.”
As part of this upcoming year’s race, to further keep the money in town, Quirk approached local restaurants in Oyster Bay, Mill Creek and Bayville to offer dinner deals. “We’ve come up with $8,000 for next year’s race, for the first 110 runners that cross the finish line will get a $50 gift certificate to a local restaurant this way we’re helping out the restaurants also,” he said.
To raise more money to support the local restaurants this year, there will be a marathon race called the “4X4X48” charity running challenge, which was created by retired Navy SEAL and athlete David Goggins, where participants run four miles every four hours over the course of 48 hours.
The challenge will begin on March 5 at 11 p.m. in Theodore Roosevelt Park.
Taylor, who is also a founder of the YOLO Strong Foundation that raises money for medically fragile and special needs children through obstacle courses, will be participating in the race on behalf of the Oyster Bay Turkey Trot. She will be doing another “4X4X48” race later in June as well for the local children YOLO Strong Foundation supports.
She said she is scared, but this is what she must do to support her community.
“The Turkey Trot gives back to local businesses in Oyster Bay and those businesses are actually the ones that support [YOLO],” Taylor said. “Through nine years ago and in 2022 we’re about to celebrate our 10-year anniversary for YOLO and all of the businesses have supported us since day one. We just want to give back.”
To sign up for the 4X4X48 challenge, visit www.gogginschallenge.com and list the Oyster Bay Turkey Trot as the beneficiary.