GraceWorks Ministries

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Trotting into her 90s

Thousands of runners and walkers line up Thanksgiving mornings for the Turkey Trot benefiting GraceWorks.

Costumes befitting the season, or not, abound – with plenty of turkey hats, pilgrim outfits, tutus, even a Spiderman once.

But in the 21 years since the first Trot, one person stands out.

Betty Brownlee celebrated her 90th birthday by joining her family’s Trot tradition by walking the 5K in 2016. 

Betty had always enjoyed walking but taking on a 5K for the first time required a lot more training. She gradually increased her walks, but still worried she would not be able to finish in the hour-and-half time limit. When Trot organizers heard about her plan, they promised to keep the route open longer if she needed it.

She didn’t.

In fact, she earned a third-place medal in her age group, and she crossed the finish line ahead of several younger folks.

“It was so much fun,” she said. “I enjoyed the walk, and I enjoyed the wonderful costumes. Everybody was having so much fun, and I loved being a part of it.”

A mistake in addition nearly cost her the credit she wanted. Her granddaughter picked up her race bib the day before and noticed the label listed her age as 89. Waiving the label in the air, she immediately went back to the registration table.

“She really wants to have 90 on her label. This is her first 5K, and she wants credit for doing it at 90 years old. Last weekend was her 90th birthday,” the granddaughter told organizers.

Betty’s daughter, Laurel Eiler, said they discussed over the years of her repeating the 5K, but it just didn’t happen.

Betty lives in Florida now, and the family is gathering there on Nov. 19 to celebrate another milestone, her 95th birthday.

“She continues to be a blessing to our family and everyone she knows,” Laurel said.

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