ATLANTIC BEACH, Florida. – Thousands of runners participated 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 ninth annual Tony’s Turkey Trot 5K has now become a Thanksgiving tradition and pre-holiday workout.
But who is Tony?
Tony Meduri is a retired police officer who moved to Florida from New Jersey in 2009 to enjoy his retirement.
That was cut short just two years later, in 2011, when a drunk driver crashed into Tony’s car while he was stopped at a red light. Tony suffered a traumatic brain injury.
This led to his daughter Anne-Marie Tucker having to become his permanent caregiver, since Tony needed such care 24/7.
“He was immediately rushed to a hospital in a coma for a month and then required constant rehabilitation,” Tucker said. “After that, it was very difficult to find places to take it.”
Tucker started the race 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 very important for me to be able to give something back to him,” Tucker said.
Tony died in 2018 at age 70, seven years after his injury, but his name lives on.
“Even though it is a loss and it was so difficult to bear because of the consequences of his disability, I have been able to reach a lot of people, and now people make this Thanksgiving their annual family event,” Tucker said.
More than 3,500 people participated in this year’s 5K, from a firefighter running in 50lbs of gear to some first-time runners, making it the largest turnout in the event’s history.
First-time running back James Price said he understands that doing this is for something bigger than himself.
“With sports and just the people in my life that I know who have brain injuries, it’s hard,” Price said. “It’s hard, and you never know the timeline. You never know what’s going on. You never know when you will improve. Just to come here and support them in terms of, ‘Hey, we don’t have the answers, but we just want to be by your side and put our arms around you and say, ‘hey, we’re walking through this with you.’ ”’”
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