BY SHERI TRUSTY
When Jessie Schenk passed away at the age of 19 in 2009, her family wanted to find a way to honor her life. Jessie, a 2008 Port Clinton High School graduate, was a talented athlete who lettered in four sports her freshman year and was an avid track and cross country runner.
In celebration of Jessie’s passion for running, her family formed the Jessie Schenk Memorial Turkey Chase.
After a few years’ hiatus, the race is getting a reboot and will return on Friday, Nov. 24 at Catawba Island Club. The event raises funds for the Jessica Schenk Scholar/Athlete Memorial Scholarship which benefits Port Clinton scholar athletes continuing their education.
“When we lost our daughter, we decided to set up a program where we could award Port Clinton students with scholarships to college,” said Jessie’s father, Mike Schenk. “One way we raise money is to do the race.”
The race started unofficially in 2009 and transformed into a fundraiser in 2010. It continued until 2019 and then paused for a few years.
“Last year, we awarded 10 scholarships,” Schenk said. “This is our reboot race. We wanted to elevate from 10 scholarships to 15 scholarships. We get 20 to 24 requests each year, so we want to raise more money to help more kids.”
The Jessie Schenk Memorial Turkey Chase is to be held on Friday (Nov. 24). Registration begins at 9 a.m. at the CIC Pro Shop. A 26.2-yard Tot Trot starts at 10 a.m. followed by a 5K Run and a Half 5K Walk.
Register online at www.eventbrite.com by searching for Jessie Schenk Memorial Turkey Chase. Donations can be mailed to Jessie Schenk Memorial Turkey Chase, c/o 3928 N. Mary Ann Drive, Port Clinton, OH 43452. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to local support, the scholarship fund has awarded $120,000 in scholarships since 2011.
“There’s been a lot of community engagement. The first check came from Cindy Bolte at Bolte Realty. She gave us a check the day after we announced it,” Schenk said. “CIC has been very forthcoming in hosting the event, and I want to give a big shout out to Crown Battery. They have, behind the scenes, been very supportive.”
Schenk said the entire community has rallied around the scholarship project.
“People have been very supportive. We built this fund $35 at a time,” Schenk said.