Turkey Run time: Fleet Dive Unit floods the streets for food

Despite his death, Karl Kavanaugh is the heart of the event he concocted three years ago

Leading Seaman Danny Morin runs in a bomb suit alongside Able Seaman Brett McColl and Leading Seaman Brian Ogle during last year’s turkey run through the West Shore. Navy Lieutenant Walter Dubeau

Despite his death, Karl Kavanaugh is the heart of the event he concocted with cohort Navy Lieutenant Walter Dubeau three years ago.

“One of the founders of the Turkey Run was a veteran of the Legion, Karl Kavanaugh,” Dubeau said. “This year the run is dedicated to Karl. He died in February of cancer.”

Dubeau, is training officer at the Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific) based in Colwood and met Kavanaugh volunteering at the West Shore food bank. Together they cooked up the plan to add meat to the season.

“The idea behind it was to get a turkey on every table,” Dubeau said. They’ve done it both previous years with grocery gift cards through the Christmas Hampers.

The first year they topped $12,000, reaching beyond $17,000 in the second annual run last year.

“This year our goal is $15,000. I want to make this achievable so people don’t get discouraged,” Dubeau said. The funds were raised primarily through corporate donations, where staggering funds earn a hefty diver helmet trophy.

“Since the first year we’ve been evolving and we have a runner up statue (this year),” he said. The small but hefty Mark 5 deep sea diver statue will be awarded to the second-most corporate fundraiser. The top donor scores the roughly 50-pound mounted dive helmet currently residing at last year’s winner Original Joe’s. The unit built the trophy from parts adding an oak backing. Original Joe’s hosted a month-long event – with the owner matching total donations – that drew $3,000 last year.

“The Goldstream Food Bank is 100 per cent volunteer. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing, volunteering our time,” he said. Food bank volunteers work hand in hand with the West Shore Christmas Hamper Fund Society to make about 600 hampers each year.

“We think numbers are up, the need is up in the community so we bumped the number up to 650,” said hamper co-ordinator Gayle Ireland.

Saturday, Dec. 1 starting at 9 a.m. search out the bobbing pack of runners to find some wearing bits of the specialized equipment the divers use in everyday work. Altogether 50 to 70 people will take part, volunteering their time that day.

“Everybody at some point runs in the relay,” Dubeau said.

RCMP take care of traffic issues at the front of the pack followed by the bomb truck leading the pack of runners. Santa and a diver in a dive boat followed by MPs take up the rear of the parade.

They run from the unit on Wilferr to Belmont Park then Sooke Road to Jacklin Road, up to Goldstream Avenue then Peatt Road to Millstream Road. They travel back from Millstream Village along Veterans Memorial Parkway to WestShore Town Centre a couple of times before heading back where they started.

“We’re definitely asking the traffic to be patient with us,” Dubeau said.

They’ll take donations along the way and at various stops. The plan is to finish around 4 p.m. then head to Six Mile Pub for a silent auction, where items are up for bid between 4 and 6 p.m.

“The month of November we do a bit of a drive and businesses give us prizes for the silent auction,” he said.

 

Those looking to compete for the corporate trophy can email Walter.Dubeau@forces.gc.ca. Those looking to contribute to the hamper fund through the event can also drop donations at the Goldstream Food Bank, 761 Station Ave. (open 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. the first three Tuesdays and Wednesdays of the month) in the name of the Turkey Run.

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Karl Kavanaugh’s death left a hole in the organization, says Gayle Ireland, co-ordinator for the Goldstream Food Bank.

“Karl was my right arm,” Ireland said. “He was loyal he was true, he was incredibly hard working and dutiful. He carried every task through to the bitter end.”

A founder of the annual Fleet Dive Unit (Pacific) Turkey Run, the food bank volunteer was devoted to Legion work.

“He really looked forward to (the Turkey Run),” said Doug Woods, who volunteered alongside Kavanaugh for about nine years. “He thought it was great from the military point of view because he was ex military.”

Cancer claimed his life in February, but friends remember him fondly at the food bank.

“Everything important in this Legion was important to Karl. People were important to Karl,” said food bank volunteer Marie Ball who knew Kavanaugh more than 50 years. “He came and helped with Christmas in 1999 … and he never left.”

 

The third annual Turkey Run will be in honour of the long-time volunteer this year.