UPDATE: 11/23 AT 8:31 A.M. (WFXR) — Drumstick Dash organizers have announced that the race will be delayed by 15 minutes, due to the heavy police presence at The Hotel Roanoke.

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) –The countdown is over! Thanksgiving is here, and with it comes the highly anticipated Drumstick Dash.

The annual 5k race has been held for the past 18 years and will take place this year on November 23. The proceeds will benefit the Rescue Mission of Roanoke, which serves about 200,00 meals each year to those in need.

Organizers said the funds raised this year are more important than ever.

“Right now, we’re seeing as much as a 50 to 60% increase in the demand in our services. The number of meals that we’re serving right now are up more than 60% of what we were doing this time last year, nights of shelter are up like 50% of what we were doing this time last year. So more people are in need of our services, which makes events like the Drumstick Dash even more important,” said the CEO of the Rescue Mission of Roanoke, Lee Clark.

Clark said the goal of the dash is to “move our feet so others can eat.” The goal this year is to raise $300,000.

“It’s a beautiful way for the whole community to come together to support the work of the rescue mission. We’re here 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing shelter, medical care, food, clothing — anything a person may need to get off the street, on their feet, and back into society,” shared Clark.

The CEO said the dash plays a pivotal role in funding those services, as the money raised goes directly to their programs, which serve 70 to 80% of the homeless population in Roanoke. Clark explained that about 250 people come every night looking for food, and nearly 2,000 different people come through their doors for shelter every year. On Thanksgiving day alone, they serve anywhere from 500-600 meals.

Organizers said nothing would be possible without their staff and the community.

“It’s about the regular folks who say, ‘[I] want to support the rescue mission, and I want to do it in a fun way. How can I do that?’ And they hear about the dash, and they sign up and they come out and have a blast. Well, the dash wouldn’t be possible without those who come out on Thanksgiving morning,” said Kevin Berry, Director of Communications for the Rescue Mission of Roanoke.

Berry also serves as the event manager for the Drumstick Dash. As for what people can expect, he tells WFXR that they don’t mess with perfection.

“One thing that people look forward to is that it’s downtown. Well, guess what? It’s downtown again this year, we’re excited to roll it out and have thousands of people. Our goal is up to 9,000 folks out there on Thanksgiving morning. So, when you come out there on Thanksgiving day, you know that you’re going to see a lot of people, it’s going to be downtown, they’re going to be in costumes, they’re going to be excited about helping folks at the Rescue Mission. It’s a beautiful scene, with a lot of fellowship on a beautiful day,” said Berry.

Road Closures

The following roads will be closed downtown from 6 a.m. until noon on Thanksgiving:

  • Williamson Rd (Wells Ave to Elm Ave)
  • Market St (Church to Norfolk)
  • Jefferson St (Day Ave to Norfolk Ave)
  • N Jefferson St (Shenandoah Ave to Wells Ave)
  • 1st St (Luck Ave to Franklin Rd)
  • 2nd St (Gainsboro to Campbell & Kirk to Franklin)
  • 3rd St (Norfolk to Campbell & Church to Franklin)
  • 4th St (Norfolk to Rorer)
  • 5th St (Norfolk to Salem)
  • Wells Ave eastbound (Gainsboro to N Jefferson)
  • Loudon (Gainsboro to Henry St)
  • Centre Ave (Shenandoah to N Jefferson)
  • Henry St (Centre Ave to Wells)
  • Jordan Alley (Centre Ave to Wells)
  • Shenandoah Ave (5th St to Williamson)
  • Norfolk Ave (5th St to Campbell Ave)
  • Salem Ave (5th St to 1 1/2 St; Jefferson to Williamson)
  • Campbell Ave (1st St SW to 3rd St SE)
  • Kirk Ave (1st St to Williamson Rd)
  • Church Ave (Williamson to 3rd St)
  • Luck Ave (Market to 3rd St)
  • Franklin Rd (Jefferson to Williamson)

Organizers say the times for the closures could depend on how fast the racers finish. For a physical map of the route, click here.

Registration is currently open for the event and will remain open until the morning of the race. People can sign up as a runner, walker, team, or even a fundraiser. Organizers say both the largest teams and the most funded fundraiser will be recognized at the event.

Race tickets are currently selling for $32.50 for those running and $24 for walkers or those doing it virtually. Those prices will be increasing after November 5. Virtual races will begin on November 1.

If you are racing, organizers advise that you pick up your race packets before the race, but there is availability to pick them up on the day.

For more information on this year’s Drumstick Dash, you can call the Rescue Mission of Roanoke or click here. If you would like to volunteer or help out beyond Thanksgiving Day, Clark said to visit the Rescue Mission of Roanoke’s Facebook page.