Turkey trot attracts 1,400 people for center
By Lucia Suarez
STAFF WRITER | November 23,2012
Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photos
Zack’s Place’s sixth annual 5K Turkey Trot passes the village green in Woodstock on Thanksgiving Day morning. Below, more of the runners are shown.
WOODSTOCK — With a large crowd watching him, Tanner Dow eloquently read a short prayer thanking everyone for taking time out of their Thanksgiving holiday to be part of the annual Zack’s Place Turkey Trot and supporting a center very close to him.
Dow, 21, is one of the 40 people who regularly attend Zack’s Place, a community enrichment center for people with disabilities located in downtown Woodstock. There he participates in music and arts, goes on field trips, has a culinary day, or as he put it, does everything, at Zack’s Place.
“Zack’s Place is an exceptional place,” said his father John, minutes before his son read the prayer. “Being around everyone, watching it grow. It just speaks to the kind of place Zack’s Place is and means to the community.”
Zack’s Place was inspired by Zack Frates, a 22-year-old with cerebral palsy who died last year.
“He was reaching the end of the education system and we wanted him to have a safe place to continue his development,” said his stepmom Dail Frates on Thursday.
More than 1,400 people gathered early Thursday morning outside Woodstock Elementary School to help raise funds for the center at the annual Turkey Trot. The 5K run, now in its sixth year, featured runners and walkers of all ages from all over the area. Anticipation grew as participants waited for the start of the run that gave them a short tour of downtown Woodstock. Minutes after 10 a.m., the starting gun went off. Runners and walkers took off on South Street before turning right at the village green.
For walker Tammi Earle of Bridgewater, this was her second time participating in the trot. She said she knows Norm and Dail Frates, founders of Zack’s place, and in supporting them and the center, brought along Casey Hannabury of Shelter Island, N.Y., this year as well.
“They were coming up for Thanksgiving and I said you are going to be have run as well,” Earle said. “It’s a good cause.”
Less than 20 minutes later, the first runner, Joseph Kill of Randolph, crossed the finish line.
Frates said she was in awe of the number of people who turned out to support them at the center’s largest fundraiser. With a budget just shy of $180,000, she said the money raised Thursday will probably pay for about a third of expenses.
“When we started (the turkey trot) we wanted to have it be a fun event,” she said. “Everyone can participate.”
“(The number of people on Thursday) tells me that we live in a good community who supports something good,” she added. “It’s people bonding together for common cause and feeling good.”
For more information about Zack’s Place, visit www.zacksplacevt.org.