Volunteer Stories: The Liberty Giving Thanks 5K

Now in its sixth year, the Liberty Giving Thanks 5K has become a family tradition, thanks to the dedication and leadership of Adrienne Garstang. A mom of two children in the Liberty school district, her involvement in Hillcrest Hope is personal.

“Some of the kids in these families really could be my children’s classmates. My husband and I are passionate about Hillcrest because it’s a hand up, not a hand out,” she says. “They give families tools to be successful and make change, not just stay in the same situation they’re in. That’s why we’re committed to the organization.”

It was because of this passion that Adrienne, along with a friend, launched the Liberty Giving Thanks 5K to benefit Hillcrest Hope in 2010. Starting the race was simple. “We just said, we need to do this 5K and we need to do it for Hillcrest. We threw it together, but we had 60 people the first year,” she says.

Since its first year, the race has grown exponentially, from the original 60 to between 300 and 400 runners every Thanksgiving. The course starts at the Liberty Community Center. Participants complete a teardrop-shaped course, taking them through the surrounding area.

Adrienne and her husband, Dr. Bradley Garstang, moved to Liberty in 2002. Just one year later, her husband started serving on the Board. During their 12+ years of involvement, the family has served Hillcrest Hope in a variety of ways, including apartment sponsorship. Involvement with Hillcrest Hope has always been meaningful for her whole family, Adrienne says.

“When you get to know the people who are in the program and hear their stories and see what they’re going through, it makes you thankful for your family. Seeing people stay committed to something that’s difficult changes your own perspective. You never know what people are going through,” she says.

Adrienne thinks back just a few years to when the recession began. “We were really involved in Hillcrest Hope when the financial crisis hit. We knew people who were doing so well and all of a sudden they lost their jobs, found themselves with homes in foreclosure . . . and it was then that was saw how Hillcrest is there for everybody. Some families grew up struggling financially and others found themselves in a difficult situation later in life. It makes you grateful for the things you have and are able to do,” Adrienne says.

Because she’s running the 5K (literally, making the event happen!) she doesn’t lace up her own shoes for this race. But she and her husband are avid runners, and Adrienne has 19 marathons under her belt. Triathlons? So many she can’t begin to count. Furthermore, she’s a certified running coach.

The race is timed, so it’s a good fit for runners who want a challenge. But it’s really intended to be a family event, Adrienne says. “Get some exercise with your family and then continue that family time at home during the meal. It’s all about creating family traditions and supporting a great cause as well.”

The race begins at 9 am on Thanksgiving morning at the Liberty Community Center. All recipients receive a commemorative beanie, and all proceeds benefit the mission of Hillcrest Hope. Register here for the Liberty Giving Thanks 5K. But don’t wait! Registration closes November 23.

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