For Luke Martinez, the 2007 ThunderClouds Subs Turkey Trot marked the beginning of two significant things in his life: his love of running and discovering Caritas of Austin’s work and mission. Ten years ago, he found out about the Turkey Trot and heard it was a fun Thanksgiving tradition. He had never participated in a race before, and coming over the last big hill on the old five-mile course, he felt a sense of accomplishment and love for the sport.
“I made it over that last hill and saw my sister and parents cheering me on but couldn’t slow down to greet them – I was about to set a 5-mile personal record and the finish was in sight! I crossed the finish line and while a bit winded, I knew that this would be the first of many races to come,” said Martinez. Since the 2007 Turkey Trot, Martinez has completed eight marathons, 12 half marathons, and 22 triathlons including an Iron Man.
That first year, Martinez also remembers seeing that the event benefited Caritas of Austin. For the next couple of years, he learned more about the organization, got connected to volunteer in Caritas’ Community Kitchen, and took a tour to better understand the organization’s work to end homelessness for people through housing, food, education, and employment services. Today, he proudly serves on Caritas of Austin’s board of directors.
“Caritas of Austin is such a great organization. A lot of times people think about homelessness negatively, but the majority of people affected by it are not who you’d think. They are families struggling, not knowing where they are going to sleep tonight. So many people are one paycheck away from being there. That includes refugees – they not only have no home, but no country,” he said.
Professionally, Luke serves as a Senior Vice President at Bank of America, which has sponsored the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot for years. He says it aligns with Bank of America’s philanthropic priorities in two important areas.
“First, the fact that the Trot benefits Caritas of Austin’s work to address community issues like hunger and homelessness is at the heart of what we care about as a company. And second, we value and promote healthy living for our employees, and 20,000 people walking and running on Thanksgiving Day is a perfect example of that.”
In 26 years, ThunderCloud Subs has cumulatively donated more than $3.1 million dollars to Caritas of Austin. Martinez can’t say enough good things about ThunderCloud and their genuine belief in the work made possible by event proceeds.
Five years ago when Martinez joined the Caritas of Austin board, he and another board member created a Caritas client team to participate in the Turkey Trot together. Board, staff, and clients train together in the mornings leading up to November and stand side by side every year at the race start line. “It’s not the role of ‘helper’ and ‘helpee.’ We are running together as a team, and it’s really cool to get to know the people we serve in that way,” said Martinez.
For 10 consecutive years, Thanksgiving Day has started with the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot for Martinez. After the race, his day might involve dinner with family, a Texas Longhorns football game, or a potluck “Friendsgiving” meal.
As much as Martinez loves Thanksgiving and the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot, there will be no turkey for him on November 23. He’s a vegetarian, but he did mention his favorite sub at ThunderCloud is the Veggie Delite, hold the olives. But even more than a sub, he says ThunderCloud’s fresh fruit is his favorite thing on the menu.
We hope you’ll join the Caritas of Austin team and 20,000 Austin neighbors this Thanksgiving and sign up for the 2017 ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot today!