It’s Thanksgiving morning, 2004, when CEO Carl Guardino and his wife Leslee wake up to a radio report by Jim Taylor of KCBS, talking about “20,000 people gathered downtown, walking and running to help feed the hungry.” He wasn’t talking about wealthy Silicon Valley, but the much smaller city of Sacramento. Inspired by the community call-to-action, Carl thought “someone should do that here in Silicon Valley,” and decided that perhaps that “someone” was us. Six months later, Applied Materials executive Joe Pon generously agreed that the company would serve as our Title Sponsor, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group Foundation launched the inaugural run for Thanksgiving Day – November of 2005.
Ten days before the inaugural race, with more than 225 volunteers secured to help on race morning, barely 100 people had registered to participate. Panic set in, but our sense of purpose never left us. On race morning, more than 900 people showed up to register on-site, delaying the start of the race by nearly a half-hour. That first race recorded 1,900 paid participants, supported by 240 volunteers, and raised $132,000 to help families in need throughout Silicon Valley. A new Thanksgiving Day tradition was born.