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ATLANTIC BEACH, Florida. – Thousands of runners took part in the annual Tony’s Turkey Trot 5K in Atlantic Beach on Thanksgiving morning.
The goal was to raise $200,000 for the UF Health Trauma Center to help people with brain injuries.
The 9th Annual Tony’s Turkey Trot 5K has now become a Thanksgiving tradition and pre-feast workout.
But who is Tony?
Tony Meduri is a retired police officer who moved from New Jersey to Florida in 2009 to enjoy his retirement.
It was cut short two years later, in 2011, when a drunk driver rammed Tony’s car while he was sitting at a red light. Tony suffered a traumatic brain injury.
This led to his daughter Anne-Marie Tucker becoming his permanent caretaker as Tony needed this 24/7 care.
“He was immediately airlifted to a hospital in a coma for a month and then needed constant rehabilitation,” Tucker said. “After that, it was very difficult to find places to take him.”
Tucker started running as a way to honor his father and fight for other people with brain injuries to get the help they need.
“He gave so much of his life that it was so important to me to be able to give something back to him,” Tucker said.
Tony died in 2018 aged 70, seven years after his injury, but his name lives on.
“Even though it was a loss and it was so difficult to deal with the impact of his disability, I was able to reach so many people, and now people are making this Thanksgiving their annual family event. “, said Tucker.
More than 3,500 people took part in this year’s 5K – from a running firefighter carrying 50 pounds of gear to some running for the first time, making it the largest number of people in the event’s history .
First-time runner James Price said he understands doing this is for something bigger than him.
“With sports and just people in my life that I know who have brain damage, it’s tough,” Price said. “It’s difficult and you never know the schedule. You never know what happens. You never know when you’ll get better. Just to come here and support them in terms of, ‘Hey, we don’t have the answers, but we just want to come to your side and put our arms around you and say, ‘Hey, we’re going through this with you. ”’”
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Annual charity 5K feasts on largest turnout for Thanksgiving race
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