Porter-Starke Services races to another successful Turkey Trot

Porter-Starke Services races to another successful Turkey Trot
By: Damon Modglin, Gena Demuth Last Updated: November 23, 2023

Porter-Starke Services hosted another successful Turkey Trot 5K Run/Walk to the delight of runners, residents, and supporters. The Thanksgiving tradition, done to raise money to support Porter-Starke’s mission, always sees large crowds of participants and volunteers, and this year was no exception.

Porter-Starke Services Turkey Trot 2023

Porter-Starke Services Turkey Trot 2023 1142 Photos
Porter-Starke Services Turkey Trot 2023Porter-Starke Services Turkey Trot 2023Porter-Starke Services Turkey Trot 2023Porter-Starke Services Turkey Trot 2023

Local businesses also offered their support to the cause. This year’s sponsors included 1st Source Bank, Centier Bank, Indiana Beverage, Larson-Danielson Construction Company Inc., Kankakee Valley REMC, Strack & Van Til, First Trust Credit Union, Four Winds Casinos, and Tech Credit Union among others. 

The Turkey Trot holds a special place in Valparaiso’s community, from veteran runners to sideline helpers. The proceeds of the Turkey Trot go to support behavioral and physical healthcare programs and services in the Region, but for many runners, the race holds a special place in their hearts.

Natalie Kasberger is a community police social worker and first-time volunteer. In college, she ran the Turkey Trot and decided this year to volunteer.

“Growing up I always volunteered on Thanksgiving or ran in Turkey Trots so this is just part of Thanksgiving to me and a great way to continue the tradition,” said Kasberger. 

The race began at 8 a.m., but the crowds showed up bright and early to prepare. From volunteers getting their assignments to runners performing their pre-race rituals, the atmosphere before the race was electric.

Carol Rabey was a first-time participant. She and her friend were so excited they arrived early, waiting in the cool temperature. 

“I am just trying to improve my health. We have been running virtual 5Ks and wanted to experience a real one. We picked this to be our first 5K," said Rabey.

Nick Fiore ran the Turkey Trot for a third year. He brought his children with him.

“I love the community. I love my kids. It’s a fun thing to do on Thanksgiving morning,” said Fiore.

The Turkey Trot sees hundreds of participants every year, and Porter-Starke recognizes that successfully hosting the event wouldn’t be possible without the help of the many volunteers that turn out every year. Between getting runner registrations in order, checking the course, and supporting racers at way stops, the volunteer presence at the Turkey Trot makes a world of difference. Fielding so many volunteers is easy given how many believe in Porter-Starke’s mission.

"The Turkey Trot is our biggest fundraiser for the Porter-Starke Services Foundation. The money raised goes directly into our services,” said Taylor O’Neal Long Porter-Starke Marketing Specialist and Starke County Grant coordinator. “Volunteers make this event happen. Our marketing department only has five people in it so we could not host this event on our own with 3,100 participants.”

This year was a record year for participants, said O’Neal Long.

Porter-Starke holds the Turkey Trot in high regard as well. It’s typically the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year, and it helps connect the Region to the many services Porter-Starke has to offer. 

“Porter-Starke is a community mental health center providing numerous services to the surrounding communities such as mental health, inpatient services, and addiction treatment,” said Tyler Cerajewski, Registered Nurse Supervisor for the Methadone clinic. “There is a mental health crisis in America. This helps get people aware that we are here to help.”

With another successful year in the books, Porter-Starke has already begun to look forward to next year’s event. None of this would be possible without continued support from the community for mental health care and treatment.

To learn more about Porter-Starke services, the programs on offer, and upcoming events, visit their website at www.porterstarke.org