Way back in 1967, three brothers ran in their first organized race called, “The Turkey Trot.” Our father and mother, who raised all three of us in the United States Navy, had just moved to a community outside of Chicago. We had just left Catholic School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as our father had been transferred yet again. That is how Navy brats are made – we moved every two to three years and had to make our mark on a new community. Our mother wanted some peace and quiet when getting ready for our family Thanksgiving meal. Our mom, an avid reader, had heard about a race that we all could participate in and she asked our father to take us. She figured this would be a good way to get out of her hair while she cooked us all a scrumptious Thanksgiving meal.

All three of us road bikes, played the normal outdoor kids games, but we had never competed against other kids our age in any kind of organized running event. Little did we know this “Turkey Trot”, would be the beginning of our running careers. Bill, the oldest brother, and I would run together in the 6th and 7th grade age bracket and our younger brother, Matt, would run in the 4th grade age bracket. Our youngest brother, Jeff, stayed home with my mom as he was not old enough just yet to compete in any running events at one year of age. Little did we know that he would turn out to be the best runner of all of us.

Standing at the starting line I had no idea what to expect. It was totally alien to me on how to run a race. One thing I did know for sure was my desire to either beat my older brother or at least stay with him until the end. Once the gun was fired I found myself at the end of the pack. There had to be over fifty kids running the race with us. I looked ahead and saw all the bobbing heads go up and down but once I spotted my older brother leading the pace, I decided I wanted to be there with him. I slowly made my way ahead of the other kids and began to feel good about this event. I knew if I could catch him, I would have a chance to at least finish with some degree of honor. I think the total distance was somewhere around half a mile.  My whole purpose in running was to beat my brother. The other runners did not mean anything to me. Like most kids my age, I think we all had an idol and in this case, my brother Bill was my idol. He was tougher than me and was not afraid to voice his opinion. On the other hand, I was pretty shy and did not really evolve from my shell until high school.

When I saw the chute and realized we were nearing the end of the race, I kicked it into another gear and sprinted towards the finish line. I came very close to catching my brother. He ended up winning the race and I was right behind him in third place. I know if we had a few more yards to run I could have come in right behind him. It did not matter to me as I had no idea what we had just done. I only remember that day as a new experience that would propel us all into a life of running. My younger brother, Matt, also had a good showing. He finished second in his age bracket.

Once we arrived home we hid our ribbons from our mom and waited for her to ask us how things went. We told her that there were lots of kids and we had fun and thanked her for telling us about this event called, “The Turkey Trot’.

I cannot recall what my mom’s response was once she saw each of her three son’s present ribbons to her. I do remember though that my mom supported us all later in life when we got to high school and cheered us all on as we ran our individuals races. Our father was old fashioned and he felt his job was to provide for the family. He always had a full-time job and part-time jobs to make ends meet. My father and mother were great providers and we were fortunate to have such good parents who cared deeply for their children. Their sacrifices in life are not forgotten as I remember that cold, fall day when we ran the “Turkey Trot”.