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Annual Turkey Trot in Atlantic Beach honors legacy of the late Dr. Leon Haley Jr.

Former UF Health CEO, who died in WaveRunner accident this year, participated in 5K in past years

Hundreds of people in Atlantic Beach started their Thanksgiving Day with a run—as part of the 7th annual Tony’s Turkey Trot for Brain Injury Awareness 5K.

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Hundreds of people in Atlantic Beach started their Thanksgiving Day with a run—as part of the 7th annual Tony’s Turkey Trot for Brain Injury Awareness 5K.

The run at the Beaches Town Center in Atlantic Beach on Thanksgiving morning honored the legacy of Dr. Leon Haley Jr, the former UF Health CEO who died in a WaveRunner accident in South Florida in July.

Mayor Ellen Glasser and the city of Atlantic Beach proclaimed Nov. 25, 2021, as the “Dr. Leon L. Haley Jr. Day of Thanks 2021.”

UF Health co-hosts the annual event with the Tony Meduri TBI Fund to benefit brain injury awareness and the holistic care of brain injury survivors in the Northeast Florida community.

Haley was committed to community outreach and in previous years participated in the 5K, speaking and handing out medals at the finish line.

Before the turkey, hundreds of people ran through the Beaches Town Center in Atlantic Beach for the Tony’s Turkey Trot.

“It’s the only way to start a Thanksgiving is here at the beach running a Turkey Trot. It’s great,” said Shelly Sharp.

Some people wore costumes.

“We just like to come down and see all our friends and see all the costumes and what people are wearing and how happy everyone is to start the day off,” said Erica Hoffmann.

Michael Brethour dressed up as a turkey. He said it doesn’t help his performance.

“Actually, I run a little bit slower,” said Brethour.

Christian Murdock, 11, had big plans after the 5K.

“I’m going home and having a nice Thanksgiving dinner with my family,” said Murdock.

The runners said it is worth it, burning off calories before the turkey.

“We get to eat some more pie,” said Sharp.

The first Tony’s Turkey Trot 5K run was held on Thanksgiving morning in 2015. Since then, the event has tripled in size and was voted Best of the Beaches 5K. In 2020, UF Health Jacksonville and The Tony Meduri TBI Fund Inc. co-hosted the event with modifications to ensure runner safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of those safety features remain in place this year.

To learn more information about the event, visit www.facebook.com/tonysturkeytrot.


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