ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — On your mark, get set, go! This year’s Drumstick DASH is making a comeback in downtown Roanoke on Thanksgiving Day after last year’s event was forced to go virtual amid the pandemic.

Organizers of the 2021 Drumstick DASH say they are implementing COVID-19 protocols to keep everyone safe because nearly 10,000 people will be running and enjoying the festivities of the dash on Nov. 25.

“To see that so many people in this city care about folks that may need our help, I mean, it brings a tear to your eye,” said Kevin Berry, the community outreach organizer for the Rescue Mission of Roanoke.

Berry says a large crowd means more safety precautions will need to be put in place.

For example, runners will have to be masked up at the starting line, but they can pull the masks off once they break away from the larger group. In addition, instead of sending runners out all at once, they will be in groups of approximately 500 people.

According to Berry, this decision was made so runners could socially distance instead of running in a tight group.

“We know that safety is a primary concern for anyone coming downtown, and we know that our guests depend on this race to put food on their plates,” Berry explained. “So, we want to do anything we can to let them know it will be a safe experience.”

Berry also says that those who do not feel comfortable being around a crowd can still attend participate in the race virtually, just like last year. Anyone who wants to join the virtual race has the entire month of November to either walk or run by themselves or with family members.

“You’ll be able to track your time,” said Berry. “You can use the GPS system. It’s called Race Joy. It’s really an amazing system, and are excited to use it for our virtual runners.

Berry says this annual event has already made a huge impact on the Roanoke community. In fact, over the past 13 years, homelessness in the community has been cut in half.

According to Berry, the more people dash — either in person or virtually — the higher the Roanoke Rescue Mission’s chances of helping reduce the number of homeless people in the community.

If you have not signed up for the 2021 Atlantic Union Bank Drumstick DASH, just follow this link.

When you use the code “FALL,” Berry says you get $5 off the runner’s registration fee.

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