Younger sister carrying on 5K on Turkey Day project

In 2014, Columbus North cross-country runner Morgan Neal had a vision for her senior project to create a unique way to help the Love Chapel collect canned goods during the holiday season.

Each year, every senior must complete a project that benefits other people in some way before graduation. Neal already was heavily involved in the Love Chapel through her school’s canned drive and her church, Saint Bartholomew.

She ran with the idea of starting a 5K run on Thanksgiving morning to raise money and collect canned goods from participants. She named it “5K on Turkey Day.”

Three years later, her younger sister Maddy Neal is hosting this year’s 5K on Turkey Day for her senior project. The event has had more than 400 participants in past years.

Maddy is also heavily involved with the Love Chapel, so hosting the 5k race was an easy choice for her.

“Every year for North, we have a canned drive around the community and the past two years I was the head canned drive chair,” Maddy said. “So I was really interested in benefiting Love Chapel in some way, and it just worked out that my sister started it. So it was just a good way for me to continue it.”

The run will be held at the Columbus Armory at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Participants can register to run and donate online through the 5K on Turkey Day website or the Love Chapel’s webpage. Participants are required to bring a minimum of five canned goods on the day of in order to reach her goal of 2,500 canned goods.

This year’s $10,000 objective is the first year the run has had a monetary donation goal. It has already raised $8,600 in donations. Its main sponsor, Cummins, has donated $2,000 to help cover expenses.

Maddy Neal is expecting a turnout of well over 300 participants, which she believes will generate enough donations reach their goal. She also has added a 10K to this year’s run in hopes of getting more runners involved.

“I wanted to reach out to more runners because I personally wasn’t a runner,” said Maddy Neal, who is a diver on the North swimming team. “I did it in middle school, but not in high school and that’s where my sister had the most connection. So I wanted to reach out more to the community and the Columbus running club to see if we could get more experienced runners to do it as well.”

If you go

What: 5K (and 10K) on Turkey Day

When: 8:30 a.m. Thursday

Where: Columbus Armory

Registration: Participants can register to run and donate online through the 5K on Turkey Day website or the Love Chapel’s webpage. Participants are required to bring a minimum of five canned goods.