In its 11th year, the Gruene Turkey Trot is officially a New Braunfels tradition. 

More than 2,000 runners participated in the 2019 Comal Cops for Kids Gruene Turkey Trot Thursday morning, with the race seeing its largest number of pre-registered participants ever. 

The 5K/Kids run event kicked off in front of Gruene Hall at 8:30 a.m. and had 1,916 pre-registered runners, as well as more than 200 day-of signups, for a total of about 2,200 runners — just 15 less than last year, said Jennifer Tharp, district attorney and a member of the Comal Cops for Kids Foundation board.

“For our 11th year we have a phenomenal turnout, especially when we consider this cold and cloudy weather,” Tharp said, bundled up in a sweatshirt and ear warmers for the 40-degree morning. 

The event raises funds for the Comal Cops for Kids Foundation, which benefits abused, endangered or underprivileged children and adults along with other nonprofit programs, including New Braunfels Police Department’s Blue Santa Program and Comal County Sheriff’s Office’s Green Santa Program. 

Tharp thanked local law enforcement for their support and high turnout, as well as community members who came out for the event. 

“To date we’ve given out over $300,000 in grants, and that wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the great community support,” Tharp said. “We see lots of families participating, it’s just 

such a fun family event.”

It’s been a privilege to serve as the district attorney and on the board for Comal Cops for Kids, Tharp said during the event’s opening ceremony.

“In our first year we had 749 participants, and boy have we grown,” Tharp said. “With your money, we’ve been able to give grants to other nonprofits while prioritizing Christmas presents for children with the Blue and Green Santa programs.”

Grants have also gone to CASA, the Children’s Advocacy Board and other similar local organizations, Tharp said.

“We have some amazing sponsors this year as well,” she added. “But for our sponsors, we’d have to use these funds for putting on this race rather than helping the community so we’d like to thank our sponsors.”

Event sponsors included Gruene Hall, The Gristmill, 92.1 KGNB & KNBT Radio, Nestle’ Nesquick, Wright Distribution, Walmart, Athlete Guild, D&M Construction, High Sierra, Hayes Marketing, New Braunfels Police Officer’s Association, Cooper’s BBQ, Comal County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, Mark Long — Attorney at Law, Bare Bull BBQ, Moore Erection, M&S Engineering and New Braunfels Feed and Supply. 

Following Tharp’s opening comments, Det. Sgt. Tommy Ward of Comal County Sheriff’s Office took the mic to wish everyone a great run and to thank Comal Cops for Kids Foundation board members.

“We are blessed to serve and live in such a great community,” Ward said. “We will always support the annual Turkey Trot and the Comal Cops for Kids Foundation.”

Following a prayer by the NBPD Chaplain, the presentation of the colors by the CCSO Honor Guard, and the singing of the National Anthem by Olivia and Allison Wilburn, New Braunfels Police Chief Tom Wibert gave the shot gun start. 

Michael Bundt, a family member of the Bundt family which had 12 members running in the 5K, said he, his kids, his brother and his nieces and nephews were excited to do the race together.

“We’re from Kansas and Minnesota, and our parents live here in New Braunfels so we don’t get together very often,” Bundt said. “We’re down here for a family reunion and have a couple runners in the family so we thought it would be fun to do it all together.”

Tim Chase and his wife Susan, along with their two children, were decked out in hand-crocheted turkey hats, and tutu tails.

“This is our first one together,” Tim Chase said. “This kicks off the holiday season for us, and it’s going to be a great couple of weeks.” 

Susan Chase said the hats each took her two days to make, but she thought they’d be different and fun. 

Sam Hilgendorf, a member of the nine-member Hilgendorf family, said he and his family came out to the event because they thought it was important to support the Comal Cops for Kids.

“We want to support our boys in blue,” Hilgendorf said. “We’re from all over — Fort Worth, Canyon Lake, San Antonio, Columbus — but this is home.”

The fastest competitors of the trot this year were Gabriel Hernandez for men, and Alexandra Walker for women. Hernandez completed the race in 16 minutes and 12 seconds, averaging a 5 minute and 13 second mile, and Walker finished in 18 minutes and 54 seconds, averaging a 6 minute and 5 second mile. 

For more information about the Comal Cops for Kids Foundation, visit www.comalcopsforkids.org.

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