This Saturday people will be walking, running and trotting for their health and the health of others.
The 22nd-annual Turkey Trot 5K/10K will be held Saturday, Nov. 18, at Campus Lagoon to benefit the Jack Canfield Chicken Soup Fund, which provides money for students who have a medical emergency. The event is sponsored by Recreational Sports and Woodstock’s.
The fund was created during the 1991-1992 school year when then-intramural soccer coordinator Ina Kristiansen was diagnosed with leukemia and could not afford her medical expenses, Rec Sports Director Paul Lee said. She died in 1992, but Rec Sports continued to raise funds in the hope of helping others.
“We saw a real need on campus for a medical emergency fund,” Lee said. “The word ‘altruism’ became one of our 10 commandments.”
The minimum to start an endowment was $10,000, which Rec Sports was able to raise by 1997, Lee said. The fund, originally named Health Opportunities Promoting Education (HOPE), was renamed when a well-known local was asked in 1997for his two cents. Author Jack Canfield, best known for the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, more than matched its funds – he provided $30,000.
“I was attracted to the need, which is students who are otherwise doing very well and then have a medical crisis and need some financial support to get them through it so they can continue with their education,” Canfield said.
Last year’s Turkey Trot aimed to raise money for such a student – Jai Mitchell. A brain seizure led to a CT scan and other medical tests that translated into medical bills.
“I was left with over $10,000 of debt. It was an incredibly stressful time and I was forced to drop out of school because of the debt,” Mitchell wrote in a thank-you letter to Rec Sports. “With the hard work of the people in the Rec Sports office at UCSB and the tremendous response of the community, enough money was raised to help me cover all of my bills.”
Lee said not all cases are as extreme as the case of Mitchell.
“Just two days ago, we awarded someone who needed to have their wisdom teeth pulled out who didn’t have the funds,” he said. “We’ve had requests for psychiatric care. We’ve had requests from an individual whose family had an emergency and she didn’t have the money to go back and see them over a death in the family. … The range is really wide.”
In another letter of gratitude, Jennifer Robinson [DN1]explained the fund’s value.
“It is often financially difficult to pay for ‘extra,’ yet necessary, expenses such as dental work when putting oneself through school,” she wrote.
In addition to helping students in need, participants will receive free food, a T-shirt and a chance to win one of hundreds of raffle prizes. The winners in each category traditionally receive turkeys, Lee said.
Canfield continues to support the fund and plans to be at this year’s event.
“I will be participating in the Turkey Trot, and I’ll say a few words before: My son, who is 10, is going to come with me. I think we’ll probably run or walk in the event,” he said. “[I’ve] talked about doing some book signings throughout the year. The profits from those books would go to support the fund as well.”
Last year over 450 people participated in the Turkey Trot. As of Monday, only eight were signed up, Lee said. Individuals can pre-register at the RecCen, Room 1110, or online at
“We have a very unique opportunity on campus,” Lee said. “We can make a difference at UCSB, right here, affecting UCSB students.”