By Michelle Caceres

With the average American consuming a whopping 4,500 calories and a gut-busting 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day, what better pre-gastronomic feast endeavor than a 5k run benefiting a local charity?

The FishHawk Turkey Trot (FHTT), which began in 2009 with 450 participants, has become the largest road race in the area, attracting more than 2,800 runners.

A family-friendly event, the race attracts hard-core runners (like Riverview resident Michael Babinec who finished in first place last year with an impressive time of 15 minutes 17 seconds) and walkers who are just happy to finish.

Seeds of Hope, Inc. (SOH), located at 710 E. Bloomingdale Ave., is the beneficiary of 100 percent of the proceeds from the race. The food bank, whose dual-faceted mission is to provide help to people in need and offer community service opportunities to local students, provides backpacks of food to school children, offers weekly food distribution to families and runs a mobile pantry for unique situations.

Race founder and Seeds of Hope Director Leda Eaton knew the race would be a perfect fit for the FishHawk Ranch community.

“There’s no other race that says ‘family fun’ like our FishHawk Turkey Trot,” she said. “There is a spirit around the race that permeates everything we do and everyone leaves smiling.”

FishHawk resident Jen Bouton and her family left smiling last year. Bouton ran the race with her husband and two of her sons.

“It was fun for the whole family to prepare and race together and it’s for a great cause,” she said.

Her family plans on participating again this year, minus one son who is away at college.

“We’ll burn a few calories then bring on the turkey,” she quipped.

Registration for the 5k Race is $25 and $15 for the fun run. Little tykes can even compete in a 250-yard toddler run. The race is disposable chip-timed on a certified 5k course that begins in the FishHawk Publix parking lot.

Runners receive logoed Dri-fit T’s, photo opportunities with the turkey mascot and handcrafted medals (painted by volunteers at Randall Middle School) to winners and kids’ race participants.

A blanket collection at the event will benefit migrants during Seeds of Hope’s Christmas distribution. Hand-painted ornaments will also be on sale for $15.

For more information about Seeds of Hope or to register for the Turkey Trot, visit www.sohopefl.org.