BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – With so many restrictions and precautions in place over the past few months, it’s been tough to bring a large group of people together safely.
That’s what made the turnout for the 44th annual Thanksgiving run for the YMCA of Southern West Virginia special, with masks and social distancing still being observed.
“We’re super excited to have this type of turnout because this is the first event the ‘Y’ has held since we reopened August 31st,” said YMCA of Southern West Virginia CEO Jay Rist. “Obviously it’s been a challenging time, but we’re hoping that all of the families that have come out to participate today have a happy Thanksgiving. This is a great way to support the YMCA, obviously, because this is a fundraising event for us as well. But it’s a beautiful day, it’s turned out well and we’re very excited with the turnout.”
With this event having occurred for over four decades, it holds a special place for people inside and outside of Southern West Virginia.
“To be honest with you, I grew up in Florida and I ran this race when I was 14,” said YMCA Volunteer George Barbera. “My parents brought me up one winter for the race. It was awesome. It was freezing rain, but it’s just a great tradition. People come home for this race or when they come home they come out to run it.”
Mother Nature played a crucial role in allowing this year’s run to get underway smoothly.
“We’re certainly happy,” Rist said. “Typically we’re facing rain, snow, cold weather. But today is a perfect day to be holding a Thanksgiving Day run.”
While this year’s award’s ceremony was truncated, the fact that this event happened in 2020 made everyone feel like a winner.
“We’ve got terrific weather,” Barbera said. “Last year it was cold.
“This year is perfect. Ideal. So it’s just a great turnout.”