3rd annual Turkey Trot participants have fun while giving back for a 'good cause'

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Sporting turkey head dresses, feathers and even some in tutu’s, more than 50 people participated in the third annual Turkey Trot Saturday morning at the Boathouse Oyster Bar on Destin harbor. 

The 56 participants brought in $2,000 for Food For Thought as well bags and boxes full of canned goods and non-perishables for the non-profit. 

Food For Thought serves Okaloosa and Walton counties and works to fight child hunger through year-round programs in the schools. 

Dressed in everything turkey, more than 50 people participated in Saturday's third annual Turkey Trot at the Boathouse Oyster Bar in Destin.

“The food is a big deal,” said Emily Roeckle of FFT, who was on hand Saturday to collect the food and hand out drink tickets. For every five items that were donated, the participants received a free drink ticket. 

“This is a great way to raise awareness,” Roeckle said of the event. 

And the folks that came were there to have fun, while contributing to the cause. 

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“We haven’t missed a one,” said a group made up of people from Fort Walton Beach to Crestview. 

“It’s for a good cause and a fun day,” said Norman Laylon of Cinco Bayou, who was sporting a turkey head. 

“It’s a good excuse to drink early and raise money for a good cause,” added Brad Simmon of Fort Walton Beach. 

This crew from Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, Cinco Bayou and Niceville have participated in all three of the Turkey Trot's in Destin. "We haven't missed a one," they all said.

The Turkey Trot is just one of many in the East Pass Slacker 0.5K event series held at the Boathouse. They are more about fun and raising money for local charities that give back to the community than an athletic event. 

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Last year, the event had 25 participants and this year participation doubled. 

“We had a Mayflower load of folks come to enjoy a good time with great give back,” said Amber Helton, event organizer at the Boathouse. 

Charlene and Kevin Dwyer of Destin drop off their non-perishable items at the Food For Thought tent at the Turkey Trot on Saturday.

“Many of the participants don’t even live in Okaloosa or Walton counties, or the state of Florida for that matter, but plan their trips around participating in our community events. That pulls at my heartstrings,” Helton said. 

Lorie Labbe of Louisiana and Chantel Tilley of Las Vegas were two such people. 

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“We plan our trips around the events,” Labbe said. 

“We come in May and November to show support,” Tilley said. 

Amber Helton, event organizer at the Boathouse, was excited the participation more than doubled for this year's Turkey Trot. Last year 25 people came out, this year they had 56.

The Slacker .5K in May is the biggest of the events, drawing more than 100 participants. 

Terri Martin of Tifton, Georgia, came to visit her friend CJ Agro of Freeport and to participate in the Turkey Trot. Both ladies were decked out in turkey fashion, complete with colorful tutus. 

“We did it last year,” Martin said. “It’s a good cause and a great atmosphere.”  

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“Anytime we can be silly, we’re for it,” Agro said. “Life’s too short not to have fun.” 

Participants picked up different drinks and played crazy games such as Pie Face and guess how many jelly beans were in a container at the different stations along the .5K. The last stop on their trek was to post on a piece of paper what they are most thankful for. 

Julie and her mother-in-law Wanda McDermon participated in the Pie Face stop along the way in the Turkey Trot on Saturday.

Julie McDermon of Freeport, who was there with her husband and mother-in-law, was all about giving back to the community. 

“It’s something fun and it’s for a good cause,” Julie said as she pulled her face out of a plate of whip cream in the Pie Face stop. 

McDermon, who is a school resource officer in Walton County, has seen firsthand what the backpacks full of food delivered in the schools does for the children. 

Al Fagan cooked up 175 pounds of turkey legs at the Turkey Trot event on Saturday at the Boathouse Oyster Bar.