Students use athletic talent to give back during holiday season

Marissa Ryan

Junior Audrey Kaul (far right) talks with teammates while they stretch in preparation for cross-country practice that afternoon. Kaul said she loves the atmosphere of the Drumstick Dash, which she usually attends with her mother and other relatives.

Victoria Nopporn
This thanksgiving, while
many families will wake up, ready to smell turkey roasting in the oven, Audrey Kaul, women’s cross country runner and junior, plans to be at the annual Wheeler Mission Drumstick Dash.

The race not only donates to Wheeler Mission, a foundation that provides meals to the homeless, but, according to Kaul, also is an opportunity to shift the cross-country team into the community.

Kaul said, “I plan on volunteering and running it with some friends from cross-country this upcoming race, so being in cross-country definitely is a motivator because a lot of people on my team run it.”

Kaul is not the only runner who participates annually in a Thanksgiving race. As he has in past years, Logan Sandlin, men’s track runner and junior, intends to take part in the Indianapolis Turkey Trot. The race benefits acute myeloid leukemia foundations and helps pay for cancer treatments as well as college tuition for those with the condition.

“Although I do not normally run distance for track, I use long-distance running as a recovery method, so by the time the Turkey Trot comes around, I have been training for track for a month or two, and I feel good going into the run,” Sandlin said. “This helps me enjoy the event a lot more. I believe that donating a small amount of money once a year and running to support the cause is the least we can do to help.”

Brian Crispin, director of marketing for Wheeler Research and the Drumstick Dash, said, runs like the Drumstick Dash allow participants like Kaul and Sandlin the opportunity to do something they already enjoy doing, “but at the same time, there’s also an opportunity as a young person to engage with one of the most important local charities that we have. Every $2.25​ raised​ provides a nutritious meal to someone who is homeless, so you are directly impacting the community,” he said.

Both Kaul and Sandlin said they agree their races have a great atmosphere, and the fact that the runs are for charity is an added bonus.

In supporting a good cause during Thanksgiving  and doing what he loves, Sandlin said, “It is important to establish a large number of young people and young runners in this event because in order for this event to serve its purpose in the future, people have to continue to participate.”