ENID, Okla. — Registration is open for the third annual Toucan Trot 5K, set Nov. 2, 2019, to benefit Loaves & Fishes of Northwest Oklahoma.
The race, which is organized and sponsored by the 71st Student Squadron Booster Club at Vance Air Force Base, will begin at 9 a.m. Nov. 2, just south of the intersection of Independence and Elm in downtown Enid.
Theo Moran, with the 71st Student Squadron Booster Club, said the event is a fun way for the students and instructors at Vance to give back to and be engaged with the Enid community.
"The student squadron is by far the largest squadron at Vance Air Force Base," Moran said, "and the event is really designed as a way to give back to the community and to reinforce the relationship the students and the cadre of instructors have with the community."
Moran said the student squadron wanted to benefit Loaves & Fishes with the proceeds of the race to help those less fortunate in the Enid community.
"Loaves & Fishes was a great organization to reach out to, especially with the timing of the event," Moran said, "because with the holidays approaching, we wanted to make sure everyone has enough food to eat."
Toucan Trot is part of a larger culture at Vance of being engaged and giving back, Moran said.
"We wanted to show we are invested in the community," Moran said, "and we're not just here to give people wings and have them move on."
Katie Long, assistant director at Loaves & Fishes, said that kind of community support is crucial to the food resource center's mission.
"The community involvement and the community buy-in is really essential to what we do," Long said, "and it's really important for us to share our story and help people see food insecurity affects everyone, and not just people you don't know."
According to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, about 17 percent of Oklahomans — about 608,000 people — live in poverty, and roughly one in four children in the state suffer food insecurity.
Loaves & Fishes distributed 690,000 pounds of food last year to 5,518 people in need in 2,119 households, thanks in large part to community donations, according to a report released in February.
Long encouraged the public to come and participate in Toucan Trot, and meet some of the Vance students helping to provide that community support.
"It is always a fun event, and we get to see new faces and share our story and our mission from the folks from the base," Long said. "We are excited to continue to partner with the folks from Vance."
Race signup and more information is available at https://runsignup.com/race/ok/enid/toucantrot. Registration is $25, and all who register by Oct. 22 will be guaranteed a race T-shirt.
Race packet pick-up will be at 7:30 a.m. the morning of the race, and in-person registrations also will be accepted then.
Race timing will be provided by Enid Running Club.
Moran said race organizers are encouraging participants to bring non-perishable food or hygiene items to be donated for Loaves & Fishes, or monetary donations can be made on the race website.