Wakefield community gives back through Skinny Turkey Run


Staff Photo by Ashley Masingale

Junior Sky Ashforth, passes out a medal to her dad at the Skinny Turkey Run

Gabrielle Donaldson, Sports Editor

Every year, the Wakefield community highlights the importance of the “Just Think First” movement through its hosting of the Skinny Turkey 5k/10k/half-marathon, sponsored by FS Series.

The Just Think First organization first began in 2004 to “ raise awareness on various topics that affect teens in society today including violence, sex, drugs, alcohol, gangs and negative peer pressure.” Its efforts are geared toward nationally educating the youth population, particularly high schoolers, in order to promote the use of wisdom when making daily decisions.

Brent Dorenkamp, FS Series Event Leader and Wakefield High School Head Athletic Trainer, works closely with the school’s chapter of the Just Think First Club and the Skinny Turkey race.

“We decided to start a 5k race to bring remembrance [of fallen wolverines] and pull the community together that says ‘Hey, we’ve got to do something,’” Dorenkamp said. “A lot of the staff was involved, we had coaches involved, we had parents that were involved, and in the first couple years, we had really high numbers. Over a thousand people were coming to these races. We decided to use the proceeds from the 5k race to support our character education for Wakefield High School, which is the Just Think First Club.”

Dorenkamp’s counterpart, Tony Calabria, is the leader of the Just Think First Club and is very fond of the annual Thanksgiving event.

I never think that it’s a bad thing to be a part of something that’s bigger than ourselves”

— Dorenkamp

“My favorite part of Skinny Turkey is working with Coach Dorenkamp,” Calabria said. “He and I really support the school and try to make it a better place, make it fun, and bring awareness about what happens outside the classroom walls when the kids leave, and how they need to have better decision-making skills.”

The race has played a big role in growing a culture of community in Wakefield High School, and unites the members of the three Wakefield schools, in addition to surrounding Raleigh/Wake Forest residents.

Over 200 adults and students volunteered in this year’s event, serving over 1,000 participants in all three races combined. Students from all grade-levels worked from 5:00 am to 11:00 am helping with event check-in, serving fluids and energy gel to runners, and cheering on the participants as they persevered on their respective courses. Students bundled up in multiple layers to keep warm in the 32-degree weather and were graciously thanked by the participants for their hard work and dedication on a day set aside to give thanks.

Senior and cross-country athlete, Matthew Montano, was a participant in the 5k event and was honored to be involved.

“It’s a cool event at our school, and we get to run for a great cause,” Montano said. “[I look forward to] just enjoying the run. I’ve been running the 5k in cross-country. I got an 18:59, so I’m trying to beat that. It’s like an extra extension to cross-country.”

With it being the 7th annual Skinny Turkey run, the Wakefield community still grows in excitement about it every year. Hundreds of participants run the race for various reasons, some of which to beat a goal in mind. This year’s winner for the half-marathon was Rob Ahrens, 30, from Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. Ahren ran an impressive time of 1:17:56.363. For the 10k, the winner was Scott Zeller who ran a time of 36:51.440. The winner of the 5k was 14-year-old Carson Wright, with a time of 18:42.290.

The Skinny Turkey 5k/10k/ half-marathon has been recognized for a great cause, and in the eyes of Brent Dorenkamp, for its selfless essence that is sure to leave a lasting impact.

“I never think that it’s a bad thing to be a part of something that’s bigger than ourselves. What better way than on Thanksgiving morning to volunteer your time for a cause that’s really important to not only our community but to every kid that goes to high school,” Dorenkamp said.  

For more information on Wakefield’s Just Think First club, visit http://www.justthinkfirst.com/#.