Loaves and Fish: A Unique Thanksgiving Story


Why didn't I think of that? 

It's a common thought. You're watching TV, for example, and the commercial for snuggies comes on. It's nothing more than a blanket with arms, and some idiot is making millions, and you wonder, Why didn't I think of that? 

Last November, my parents actually had an idea that hadn't been done before. This time, they were the ones who thought of it first. 

They were sitting at the table with my aunt and uncle talking about plans for Thanksgiving. In 2005 our families participated in the Dallas Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning, and they wondered if we should do it again this year (2011).  Almost immediately, all four adults voiced their concerns. It was too far of a drive. They didn't want to deal with the crowds. It was too expensive. 

That's when lightning struck.

"Why don't we just organize our own turkey trot here in Double Oak?"

At that point, it was 3 weeks before Thanksgiving. 

Furious planning began. We* needed to get the word out. Buy food. Map out a route. Get the chief of police on board. Figure out parking. Design a logo. Order t-shirts. The list seemed endless. 

It was decided that all proceeds would go toward North Texas Youth for Christ. My dad is the director of YFC in North Texas, and he's had a difficult time getting donations, to say the least. This would be an annual turkey trot to benefit YFC, and we all hoped it could grow into something that could bring in major support to and awareness of the program. 

For the first annual Double Oak turkey trot, 187 people showed up to run. We were feeling good. That was more than we'd hoped for, especially with only 3 weeks of planning. 

For 2012, my parents and my aunt and uncle decided to get more serious. We added timing chips and bibs for 5k participants, and we also added a 1-mile fun run. Our best-case scenario was to get 300 runners. By November 1, there were less than 100 signed up, and we started getting worried that our "annual" race wouldn't last past the second year. 

Signs were put up everywhere around town, the newspaper ran a story about the trot, and the numbers started to increase. Whether it was through word of mouth or our signs on every possible street corner, we'll never know. I personally believe it was the hand of God. Numbers like these don't make sense any other way.

November 5: 130 
November 10: 260
Later that day: 276
November 12: 324
November 14: 413
November 19: 665

By race day, we had a whopping 703 registrants. We even had to make the tough decision to close registration due to parking and overall safety concerns. No one had expected the surprising and overwhelming interest in our small-town 5k. 

We had blown past being concerned about not getting 300 and switched to freaking out that we had too many people. After registration closed, we had another 200+ who voiced disappointment and, in some cases, anger that we couldn't accept any more runners. But we needed to make sure we could handle the crowds, and the police were concerned about road safety, so we stuck with our decision.

We got up at 4:45 Thanksgiving morning, and from there it was fast and furious. I'll spare you a long narrative from this point and instead just share some photos from the day. I will say this, however: the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 kept running through my mind.

Even the day of the race, we still weren't sure we'd have enough of anything. Enough volunteers. Enough parking spaces. Enough food. Enough water.

And Jesus, just like he did with the loaves and fish, took our small offering and turned it into more than we needed.

Winners in each age group got a sweet medal. Next year we plan on adding finishers medals for everyone.

(Throughout this story I use "we" to mean a collective group effort of my parents, aunt, and uncle as the leaders. I am, however, including myself and my siblings and cousins as volunteers and helpers with planning, etc.)
Unknown said...

Gave me goosebumps. It's always so unexpected (to me) when God moves like that. And awesome.

Helene said...

what a great story (and pictures) thanks for sharing.

Whitney Cypert said...

HI! New follower from Lauren and Lauren! How awesome that you guys had such a great turnout at your 2nd annual race! Can you imagine next year? Looking forward to getting to "know" you!

The Olive Tree Blog said...

i founfd you via laurens blog :) love this idea!!!

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

This post gave me chills!! Truly a miracle... and such a fun time, by the looks of it! This is definitely inspirational!!