The sixth annual Turkey Trot benefitting the YES Community Counseling Center (CCC) of Massapequa took place bright and early at Brady Park on Nov. 21. The event was packed with runners both fast and slow, but all united with the desire to do good for their neighborhood.
YES CCC is a valuable resource for Massapequa children and families; offering counseling, drug and alcohol treatment, and a variety of other social services to the community. YES is dependent on both governmental funding and the support of the public, and the Turkey Trot—a popular foot racing event—is a major annual fundraising effort for them, according to Massapequa Park resident Vicki Ventura, a board member of YES and race director.
“We wanted to do a fun run that could also serve as a fundraiser for YES and this is a beautiful location for an event,” she said. “In addition, we figured that there wasn’t a better time to celebrate such a good organization as YES than Thanksgiving.”
The Turkey Trot is made up of two separate components—a three-quarter mile “Fun Run” at 8:30 a.m., followed by a 5K (3.1 mile) run for the adults at 9 a.m. Turnout was impressive; as more than 600 participants signed up, signifying a record for the event and the groundswell of support that YES enjoys based on the good it does for their community.
Jamie Bogenshutz, executive director of YES, was blown away by the mass of humanity ready and waiting to pound the streets of Massapequa Park in support of her origination.
“I love it…this is just such an amazing event,” she said. “There are over 600 people here just because they love to run, but many of them are here because they support YES Community Counseling Center, which is a blessing.”
In addition to medals, winners were treated to unusual prizes. All winners of the individual age groups received holiday pies and the top three male and female finishers were treated to a full turkey, all donated by local businesses.
Blake Rothstein of Massapequa, age 12, was the first place finisher in the children’s Fun Run and said that despite his impressive finish ahead of the pack, he actually got a little help from his brother Brian, 13, who came in second place right on his heels.
“My brother let me win…at least, that’s what he said,” he said. “I’m not a regular runner, but I was glad to do the race…it’s for a good cause, and we had a lot of fun.”
Sal Nastasi of Massapequa Park placed an impressive second in the 5K race, despite the fact that he was running with a slight handicap.
“I was pushing my daughter in a stroller today during the race and it was a lot of fun,” he said. “This is a great community race…I’m an avid runner, and the fact that it supports a wonderful local charity is just an excellent bonus.”
Jen Dagan of Farmingdale is a regular on the Long Island running circuit. The first female finisher in the 5K and third place finisher overall, she said that she enjoyed the challenge and the chance to do something good and charitable while she was at it.
“I’m local and I know that this is a fun Turkey Trot,” she said. “I haven’t done it before and I wanted a fast race and it was really fun, and I’m glad that by participating I’m helping the local Massapequa community center and the assistance they provide for the people who need it.”
Bogenshutz noted that high turnout for fundraisers like the Turkey Trot is more imperative now than ever in light of potential cuts to Nassau County funding that YES CCC is facing in the near future. If the cuts indeed come to light, YES will have to depend on the public’s support during their fundraising efforts more than ever.
“This is vitally important, because without funding our agency can’t open their doors and offer the service that the community needs,” she said. “Especially now that County Executive Ed Mangano is proposing cutting all funding to the Youth and Family Services department, and if he does, we’ll lose about 30-35 percent of our funding. If that happens, a lot of children and families will lose vital services and we’ll have to figure out another way to be there for people when we don’t have the resources anymore.”