By Caroline Vandergriff

ALEDO (CBSDFW.COM) – Thousands of families across North Texas will lace up their sneakers Thanksgiving morning for a turkey trot ahead of the big meal, but the tradition takes on new meaning in Aledo, where the purpose is to give back to a family in need.

A decade ago, a group of neighbors organized the first Thanksgiving run as a way to help a friend, Marcia Walters.

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“She had a double lung transplant and needed some help financially,” said Rhonda Torres, the founder of the Aledo Thanksgiving Trot. “We didn’t know what we were doing, but we made it happen in six weeks. From then, we thought that would be it, but God wasn’t finished. We’ve gone for 10 years.”

Each year, the run raises tens of thousands of dollars for a different family with a medical need.

“There’s really no words to say what this means to every recipient and to our family,” said Marianne Gibson, Walters’ daughter. “The job that these women do is incredible.”

Walters passed away in April, and the race is now named in her memory.

All proceeds this year will go to 11-year-old Brittney McCoy, who has an undiagnosed condition that has stunted her development.

Brittany McCoy, 11, is the beneficiary of Aledo's Thanksgiving Trot

Brittany McCoy, 11, is the beneficiary of Aledo’s Thanksgiving Trot (Credit: Rhonda Torres)

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“She looks normal, but she’s like a 6-month-old in an 11-year-old body,” Joe McCoy, Brittney’s father, said.

Brittney is also legally blind and has epilepsy. The funds from the trot will go a long way towards improving her quality of life.

“We have trouble even getting her in and out of our front door,” said her mother, Kelli McCoy. “She just got a new chair that’s bigger. She’s obviously really long, and probably going to get really tall. We’re hoping to make our house more accessible for her, be able to get her in and out, and then just within the house.”

The McCoys say this race shows what makes Aledo so special.

“We happen to be this year’s benefactors, but it’s really about the people behind us and the community and the school district,” Joe McCoy said.

The Thanksgiving Trot starts at 8 a.m. Thursday morning in the parking lot of the Aledo High School football stadium. More than 1,4000 people are expected to run in the 5K or 1-mile fun run.

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“It just warms your heart as a mother to see people loving on your child,” said Kelli McCoy. “So that’s what I’m looking forward to for tomorrow.”

Caroline Vandergriff