Bertie would have been proud of her gobblers.
Nearly two dozen members of her extended family from around the region sported bright orange T-shirts and descended Thursday morning on Saratoga Springs to navigate a roughly three-mile loop from City Hall through the Skidmore College campus before sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner later in the day. And despite a whipping wind and morning temperatures that struggled to reach the lower 20s, the family seemed in good spirits for the run.
After all, they were running for Bertha Harkins, the grandmother who died 10 years ago. In her memory this year, the large group decided to wear shirts with the slogan “Bertie’s Gobblers” and start a new tradition to honor the woman who cared deeply about family togetherness.
“She was always about family,” recalled Kathy Harkins of Amsterdam.
The Gobblers were among nearly 3,000 runners to participate in the Christopher Dailey Foundation’s annual Turkey Trot. The race was a new experience for some but an established tradition for many others who forgo sleeping in on Thanksgiving morning for some exercise.
“It’s a community event,” said Mark Dailey, one of the event’s organizers and the father of Christopher Dailey, who died 12 years ago at age 8. “A lot of people come up to me and say ‘this is our tradition now.’ ”
Christopher Dailey attended Dorothy Nolan Elementary School, played chess and loved sports. He died the day after Thanksgiving following a brief illness, leaving a void in the Dailey family.
Mark and Maria Dailey resolved to do something to honor their son’s memory. They started a neighborhood race in Wilton to raise money to build a gymnasium for the community. But after the first event drew more than 350 runners, the Daileys decided to move the run to an area more capable of handling crowds. Since the first run in Saratoga Springs in 2002, the race has grown exponentially.
The runs and several other fundraisers pulled together enough money to complete the gym in Wilton’s Gavin Park. Now, the foundation is devoted to raising money for youth sports throughout the area.
“We have a wonderful opportunity here,” Mark Dailey said.
For the Daileys, the race has become more than just a fundraiser for the foundation. Now, it’s a family tradition.
Their daughter, 23-year-old Laura Rose, and son, 16-year-old Brendan, both run in the race each year. Brendan, now in high school, also sings the national anthem to start the event, and he has Christopher in mind as he does it.
“It’s a lot easier to do it, especially because it’s for him,” he said.
The Turkey Trot was one of several Thanksgiving races in the Capital Region. In Schenectady, Ellis Medicine’s 32nd annual Cardiac Classic drew more than 1,700 runners for a dash through the city’s Central Park.
The event raised about $40,000 to support Ellis Medicine’s Wright Heart Center. This year, runners were able to set a personal fundraising goal and ask friends, family and colleagues to help them reach it.
The 66th annual Troy Turkey Trot drew 7,855 runners this year. Billed as the nation’s 12th oldest road race, the event raised $10,356 for the Northeast Regional Food Bank.
“It really is a community event in its truest form,” said Troy Mayor Lou Rosamilia, who participated among the event’s walkers.