The idea for the Drumstick Dash in the Star City actually came from the Music City

Rescue Mission

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Though it’s being held virtually this year because of the pandemic, the Drumstick Dash has been a part of Roanoke’s Thanksgiving morning tradition since 2006.

However, the idea of having the Drumstick Dash — which serves as the annual fundraiser for the Rescue Mission of Roanoke — came from Nashville when a Rescue Mission volunteer visited the Music City in 2006 as they had a similar race.

“She thought it was something we should consider, so as a development team we talked about it as we have never done anything like this. Honestly Jermaine, we thought it would be a great idea to give it a try,” said former event executive director Uneita Mathews.

However, before committing to the Dash, Mathews checked in with local running gurus to get feedback about doing the Drumstick Dash on Thanksgiving morning.

“They were not very hopeful to us because of the morning that it was, you know, the holiday with everyone doing other things, but you should give it a try,” said Mathews.

Give it a try they did. So on Thanksgiving morning in 2006, approximately 1,700 runners and walkers took to the streets of downtown Roanoke for the Dash similar to now.

Mathews says the first event exceeded the expectations of organizers. Last year, more than 12,000 people participated in the Dash.

With the event taking on a different form in 2020, it still hasn’t diminished the enthusiasm of this special tradition.

“It has taken on a life of its own. One of the years when we realized it was the Drumstick Dash had the population of a small town,” said Mathews. “Because we reached the 15,000 mark one year so we were very excited so you are right it has become tradition. So many people and their families that they come in from out of town and to get together first thing Thanksgiving morning and give back to the Mission and our cause to move or feet so others can eat it is overwhelming.”

To learn more about the race, visit You can also click here to sign up for the race or click here to donate.

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