Over 100 community members raced through the paths of Heritage Park on Saturday, Nov. 19, for the inaugural Mount Sinai 5K Turkey Trot Walk/Run.
North Shore Youth Council hosted the event, with proceeds supporting local families on Thanksgiving. Bobby Woods, executive director of NSYC, detailed the motivations for putting the event together.
“I also own a few gyms, so a lot of my members wanted to do something to raise funds for local families,” he said. “The proceeds of this event are going to be used, in partnership with Crossover Christian Church [in Mount Sinai], to feed 100 families next Thursday on Thanksgiving.”
Partnerships such as these are carried out fairly often by NSYC, a 42-year-old nonprofit charity dedicated to assisting youth and families throughout the area. The council offers after-school programs, affordable child care, mental health services and community-building events, among other initiatives.
“Today, we have a little over 100 participants,” Woods said. “They’re going to try to get in a little over 3 miles, and it’s just for fun, too.”
The executive director said his two passions in life are fitness and community-building. For him, the Turkey Trot event is a way to integrate these passions and “leverage both of these platforms.” However, the event is not only a way to get fit but to support community members in need.
“The families that we’re feeding, to put yourself in their shoes, there are going to be people that wake up that are unable to feed their kids, and there’s a lot of gravity to that,” Woods said. “There are going to be 100 families that can wake up now and have a great day with their kids, and I think that’s the youth council’s mission statement — and it has always been my statement at the gym.”
Another of NSYC’s central goals is to inspire community youth to be active, motivated and stewards for positive change. Lawrence Kogel, NSYC president, offered how the 5K event plays into that broader theme.
“The other focus of the youth council is to have a vehicle to allow youth to have something to do other than playing video games and getting in trouble,” he said. “All these activities — which are spread from Shoreham, Wading River, through Rocky Point and Miller Place, to Mount Sinai and Sound Beach — are to help the youth in the community. That’s really what our organization is all about.”
Runners, joggers and walkers of all ages completed 3 1/2 circumnavigations of Heritage Park for a total of 5 kilometers. The location of the Turkey Trot carried symbolic meaning, according to Kogel, fulfilling the original intent for creating this central community hub.
“It’s a partnership between the county, the Town of Brookhaven, our organization and the civic associations and other community groups that participate in the use of the building, which was the original vision of the Heritage Park,” he said.
To follow other upcoming community events coordinated by the youth council, visit the website www.nsyc.com.