Lions 5K Turkey Trot
Fun, Fitness and Fundraising for the Community
Every Thanksgiving, families and friends in Naperville, Illinois, and the surrounding area join together to run the annual Lions 5K Turkey Trot. Parents, children, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, neighbors, business owners, friends and other community members run the race every year so they can feast, guilt-free, on turkey dinner. The race has become a Thanksgiving tradition for many people, and they can celebrate the holiday knowing the funds from the race go back to their community.
Naperville, Illinois, USA
The Lions Step In
Many people in the community – from children who don’t know they have a vision problem to adults whose vision impairment is affecting their careers – don’t have access to quality eye care that can improve their everyday life. The Naperville Noon Lions Club hosts a 5K Turkey Trot every Thanksgiving to raise money for people in the area in need of vision, hearing and other services. On Thanksgiving morning, the entire community comes together to enjoy family, friends, fitness and fundraising.
“Lions are true to their community,” said George Pradel, Lions club member and mayor of Naperville. “At this time of year, it’s Lions Club Day in Naperville.”
A Thanksgiving Tradition
The number of race participants has grown from 350 registered runners in the first year to 7,700 in the 14th year. The Turkey Trot continues to grow as regular participants bring more family members and friends to join every year – making the race a family event and tradition for many Naperville area residents. Parents run with their children; groups of friends dress in holiday costumes; and all give back to the community while having a good time. The event has grown so big that people have come to know who the Lions are and what they do for the community, which motivates them even more to run for a good cause.
The Naperville Noon Lions Club raises over $100,000 a year from the Turkey Trot, and every penny goes back to the community. The social services program that the money supports benefits people who live in Naperville and attend Naperville schools. The Naperville Noon Lions Club provides eye exams, eyeglasses, hearing exams and hearing aids for more than 300 people every year. The club also raises funds to support various vision, hearing, diabetes and youth initiatives in the area.
Tips and Tools
Organize a 5K Fundraiser in Your Community
How do you coordinate the event? »
We do great things in small groups. Creating committees for each event helps all Lions participate. The Turkey Trot committee is a group of 10 people who get together frequently year-round to plan the event.
How do you promote the event? »
We try to put out as much information about where the money goes. We have advertisers around the community that are willing to tell the Lions’ story. There is also a lot of word-of-mouth promotion – many participants who come one year will usually bring someone else the next year.
How does the event help your club grow? »
Naming the event the Lions 5K Turkey Trot puts the club’s name at the forefront and helps raise awareness about Lions efforts. People who learn about the event and where the money goes, such as runners, school nurses and optometrists in the community, become interested in the Lions club and decide to join. We also get involved in other community events throughout the year to get our name out there.
Any special words of advice? »
People want to help others who are nearest to them, so let them know how their participation gives back to the community.
"We’re able to put glasses on people for the first time, and they can appreciate all the details they never saw before."
Optometrist, Lions club member
"It’s a great family and community event. Whether they’re competitive runners or they’re moms and grandmas walking, everybody just gets out and does it."
Turkey Trot participant, Naperville Running Company manager