Eastbay’s Turkey Trot: A Decade of Making a Difference

Eastbay’s Turkey Trot: A Decade of Making a Difference

In 2010, Eastbay’s marketing team presented the idea of beginning a charity turkey trot in Wausau – for a company with roots in running and community, this seemed like a perfect combination.

“The turkey trot originally started as a marketing initiative to keep the Eastbay name relevant in Marathon County,” said Carrie Sann, former vice president of Human Resources for Eastbay. “As it continued to grow, it became so much bigger than just brand awareness. It’s become about families coming together and supporting those in the community who are less fortunate.”

Ten years later, Eastbay’s Turkey Trot is still going strong. This success wouldn’t be possible without participants, so whether you plan to run, walk, or volunteer for this year’s 5K, know that you make a difference. Because what you see as just a registration fee is actually the start of a donation process that changes lives in the community.

Eastbay Turkey Trot signage outside in the snow.


1. From Eastbay to the Hunger Coalition

When Eastbay began planning for the event, the goal was to give back to the community, and United Way of Marathon County had just started their initiative to battle hunger. The perfect match between Eastbay and the Marathon County Hunger Coalition (MCHC) was born.

“When Eastbay discussed which cause we wanted to support, we thought about Thanksgiving and the people who didn’t have food, and it just made sense to give back to the newly formed Marathon Country Hunger Coalition,” said Carrie.

“The goal of the Hunger Coalition, in a nutshell, is to eliminate hunger in Marathon County,” said Dave Eisenreich, chair of the MCHC. “It’s an ambitious goal, but that’s what we’re trying to do.”

When participants register for Eastbay’s Turkey Trot, 100% of the registration fee is donated to the MCHC. To date, Eastbay has donated over $318,000.

“While the Turkey Trot only takes place over the course of two hours, it actually impacts the community throughout the year as we use those funds to purchase food for participating pantries in our community,” said Ben Lee, Director of Community Impact, Health & Financial Stability at United Way.

When the tradition began in 2010, there were 450 runners, and each year since, the attendance has increased.Last year, there were 1,830 participants who raised a total of $58,000.

But as the attendance has continuously grown through the years, so have the number of requests the MCHC receives for food assistance.

“Ten years ago, we served 75,000 people. Today, it’s 170,000 people,” Dave said.

Eastbay’s Turkey Trot is one of the biggest fundraising events for the MCHC allowing them to keep up with the increasing number of people in need. Which is why, according to Amanda Sahr, Employment Brand Strategist for Eastbay, they hope to set a record this year with a grand total of 2,000 participants.

If the Turkey Trot went away, unless we found something else to replace it, we couldn’t do what we do.

Dave Eisenreich, chair of the Marathon County Hunger Coalition
Group of Eastbay employees and Dave Eisenreich from the Hunger Coalition take photo with large donation check.
Dave Eisenreich (center) accepts check for the Marathon County Hunger Coalition.


2. From the Hunger Coalition to the Pantries

The MCHC is not a centralized food pantry, but it works with local food pantries to provide opportunities for collaboration and teamwork.

“We don’t want to take over or replace the food pantries,” Dave said. “That’s not realistic or practical for our county. They continue to focus on getting donations on their own, but we supplement what they’re doing and make it easier for them to succeed.”

One of the pantries that’s been a part of the MCHC since the beginning is The Neighbors’ Place (TNP) run by Executive Director Tom Rau.

“Cooperating with the Marathon County Hunger Coalition, and other local pantries, we make food stretch in ways we never thought possible,” Tom said. “I don’t think you’ll find an organization within the Hunger Coalition that would say it isn’t better than before it joined.”

The money that the MCHC receives from Eastbay’s Turkey Trot helps food pantries in two specific ways.

The first is purchasing monthly groceries for the food pantries within the coalition.

“We buy roughly $6,000 worth of food per month,” Dave said. “We have a list of staples that we buy through a local grocery store, and every month the Hunger Coalition truck will pick up the food and bring it to The Neighbors’ Place. Then it’s divided up by food pantry.”

The other way the donations help is with rural food delivery.

“The rural food delivery started years ago when we thought, ‘We’re the Marathon County Hunger Coalition, not the Wausau Hunger Coalition,’” said Dave. “So once or twice a year I’ll go as far as Edgar, Colby, and Spencer with a truckload of groceries and deliver to the smaller pantries.”

The Marathon County Hunger Coalition truck parked.


3. From the Pantries to the People

After the MCHC drops off their monthly truckload of groceries at TNP, volunteers divvy it up among the 11 food pantries. From there, each pantry operates a little differently depending on what works best for them, yet the result is always the same: people leave with more food than they arrived with. But food distribution is just the tip of the iceberg. When people visit food pantries, it allows them to save their grocery money for other expenses.

“It’s not always about people starving,” Tom said. “The money saved can go to heating a house in winter or fixing a car that unexpectedly broke down. Or, as we come up to Christmas, maybe by going to a food pantry, families can afford one or two more gifts under the tree.”

“Food pantries do so much more than just feed the starving.”

Tom Rau, Executive Director of The Neighbors’ Place

A child of the ’60s, Tom thought by this time in his life the fight against hunger would no longer exist. But he remains optimistic, saying that, as long as everybody keeps asking the right questions, they’re headed in the right direction.

“It’s ‘What will happen to me if I stop?’ versus ‘What will happen to them if I don’t stop?’” Tom said, referencing Martin Luther King Jr.’s Mountaintop speech. “The Hunger Coalition and the people who formed The Neighbors’ Place asked that second question: ‘What’s going to happen in our community if we don’t help?’ And every year, Eastbay asks itself, ‘What’s going to happen to the Hunger Coalition if we don’t do the Turkey Trot?’ That question makes all the difference.”

Current executive director of The Neighbors’ Place, Tom Rau (right) running in the Turkey Trot

Thanksgiving is the holiday most commonly associated with two things: food and gratitude. So how fitting that Eastbay along with the people of Marathon County spend a couple hours of their holiday giving back to their community and ensuring no one goes hungry.


We look forward to seeing you on Nov. 28 to celebrate a successful 10 years of trotting. Share your favorite memory from Eastbay’s Turkey Trot in the comments below.

PREVIEWING THE BALLISLIFE ALL-AMERICAN GAME

PREVIEWING THE BALLISLIFE ALL-AMERICAN GAME

The ninth annual Ballislife All-American game is fast approaching. Here at Eastbay we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about one of the premier showcases of high school basketball talent in the nation.

This year’s game will take place on May 4 and feature some of the top recruits in the nation including USC commit Isaiah Mobley, Michigan State commit Rocket Watts, Jr. a couple of undecided 5 stars in Jaden McDaniels and Precious Achiuwa, and the top ranked point guard and second overall recruit of the 2019 class Cole Anthony, who recently committed to UNC. With all this skill, it’s sure to be a high-octane affair with plenty of scoring and highlight dunks. There will also be a dunk and three-point contest before the game which is sure to create some highlights and maybe get a couple of fans to fall out of their seats.

The jerseys this year are drawing on inspiration from the 1996 NBA All-Star Game in San Antonio. Everyone playing in the game will also be receiving a pair of the newest Crossover Culture shoes that they can choose to wear in the game.  

The game will be played at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center with over 5,000 fans expected to attend. Taking place alongside the game will be HoopCon, which is a must attend for sneakerheads. This will be the first time HoopCon has collaborated with Ballislife.

You can check out highlights from last year’s game here:

AAU Sullivan Awards: Plummer Takes Home the Hardware.

AAU Sullivan Awards: Plummer Takes Home the Hardware.

Stanford volleyball player Kathryn Plummer was named the 2019 AAU Sullivan Award winner during a ceremony on Tuesday in New York City.

This adds to the long list of awards Plummer has racked up this season which includes the AVCA Player of the Year, ESPNW Player of the Year and Pac-12 Player of the Year. To top it all off Plummer helped lead her team to the NCAA National Championship where Stanford defeated Nebraska for their 8th title.

Asked what volleyball means to her Plummer said, “Volleyball shapes my life in almost everything I do. My teammates become my family, and the support I receive from everyone around me makes me appreciate the sport even more. It is a sport that brings new challenges every day and it is always fun to learn and break new barriers.”

Plummer beat out a strong class of finalists which included McKenzie Milton from UCF, Mikaela Foecke from Nebraska, Rachael Garcia from UCLA, Luke Maye from UNC, Aleia Hobbs from LSU, Townley Haas from Texas, and Morgan Hurd who competes as a part of the USA Gymnastics team. All of these finalists were well-deserving and each has made an incredible impact on their sport and their community.

How to Watch the Ballislife All-American Game

How to Watch the Ballislife All-American Game

The best high school basketball players in the nation have flocked to Long Beach, California, for the 7th Annual Ballislife All-American Game presented by Eastbay.

Trevon Duval, Billy Preston, Trae Young, Jaylen Hands, LiAngelo Ball, and the rest of the crew are already onsite preparing for tomorrow’s showdown. In addition to the game itself, the nation’s best prospects will also participate in a three-point contest and a dunk contest prior to the game.

If you can’t make it out to Long Beach for the game, don’t sweat it. You can still watch all of the action from home. The event will be exclusively livestreamed on Facebook starting at 7 p.m. ET on May 6. And stay locked to Eastbay’s social channels for behind-the-scenes access all weekend long.

The History

Ballislife provides the most comprehensive coverage of high school and grassroots basketball in the country. Ballislife created a hub for fans, coaches, and players to follow along with all of the top highlights, top players, and best games. As an authoritative figure in the game, Ballislife challenged the traditional all-star game selection process and created their own all-star game with “the goal of selecting the most deserving players, regardless of geography, mainstream player rankings, or shoe affiliations.”

Since the first game in 2011, the Ballislife All-American Game has racked up an impressive list of participants. Previous attendees include Lonzo Ball, Miles Bridges, Thon Maker, Skal Labissiere, Stanley Johnson, Tyler Ulis, Zach LaVine, and Glenn Robinson III.

Full Roster

Previous Ballislife All-American games have featured a stacked roster, but this year might be the most talented group yet.

The full roster features Trae Young, Trevon Duval, Billy Preston, Jaylen Hands, Kris Wilkes, Brandon McCoy, PJ Washington, Ethan Thompson, Cody Riley, Isaiah Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt, Quade Green, Ira Lee, LiAngelo Ball, Charles O’Bannon Jr., Chris Lykes, Mo Bamba, Brian Bowen, Brandon Randolph, Elizjah Scott, Jalek Felton, Jaren Jackson Jr., Savion Flagg, Kezie Okpala, Jalen Hill, and Collin Sexton.