Saturday’s Turkey Trot to benefit West libraries

TurkeyTrotLogo FTWBy Paula Ann Solis
Staff Writer

With turkey on the mind, runners are lacing up for the eighth Annual Central Texas Turkey Trot, which will benefit West Independent School District libraries destroyed during the April 17 West Fertilizer Plant explosion that leveled hundreds of buildings.

Registration for the event will begin at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at Redwood Shelter in Cameron Park.

The race will start at 9 a.m. It will include a 5K and 1K, 3.1 and 0.62 miles, respectively.

The races will be timed or untimed depending on the participants’ desire.

Registration is $20 for participants younger than 12, $25 for 1K participants and $30 for 5K participants.

Prizes include $150 and a frozen turkey for first place, a pumpkin pie for second place and a meal coupon for third place.

According to the registration website, the race does not contain a difficult trail.

The cost to enter will increase by $5 for all participants the day of the race, said Susan Duecy, president-elect of Altrusa International of the Brazos, the group co-sponsoring the race along with Altrusa International of Waco.

“Altrusa internationally is primarily focused on literacy, disaster relief and HIV/AIDS,” Duecy said. “With the West disaster being right here in our community and with the libraries destroyed, the community need seemed very relative to the mission of Altrusa.”

Duecy said the word Altrusa is a combination of the word altruism and the abbreviation USA.

The net income of the past seven Turkey Trots is near $35,000, with an average near $4,500 each year.

However, Duecy said this year the average has already been exceeded based on sponsorship and the 130 runners currently registered.

“It seems like the community really has a lot of interest this year,” Deucy said. “This is my first time to co-chair the event. I don’t know if this response is typical or if it is because benefits are for West, but it’s been exciting to me to see the support for the cause.”

Dr. Jan Hungate, the chief administrative officer at West ISD, said support for West from these two Altrusa groups and around the nation has been unbelievable during their time of rebuilding and recovery.

Hungate said books have poured in from around the country to help rebuild the libraries in West ISD after three of the four schools were destroyed and one library completely burned.

The other damaged schools were in a condition reasonable enough for employees to walk through and salvage what they could from the former libraries.

“We have two temporary libraries, one at the junior high and one at the high school probably a quarter of what the previous ones were in a modular building a little bigger than a classroom,” Hungate said. “We really had to pick and choose the most important English, social studies and science books to keep, and we have wireless-internet so devices in there can look online and view database subscriptions.”

This online database is the vision for the future of West ISD libraries, Hungate said.

The money that has been donated so far for West libraries is being saved to rebuild a library centered on eBooks and other technologies that will provide what Hungate described as a state-of-the-art facility with a quality learning space for students.

“We cannot express our gratitude for the outpouring of support from around the state and our country,” Hungate said. “I got two calls from Boston after all they went through with the bombing and they just wanted to say, ‘We want you to know we’re thinking of you.’ It makes me cry just talking about it.”

The Boston bombing occurred April 15, only two days before the West fertilizer explosion. Students at West Elementary School have spent the past week preparing signs to encourage racers, Hungate said.

The West High School track team will also participate in the race and members of both Altrusa groups have covered all their entry fees. The West High School drumline will kick things off with a performance, and the post-race entertainment will include a dance by West dancers demonstrating the town’s Czech roots.

To learn more about the event and registration, visit