Coker2014Borodash was just a good healthy thing to do until Justin Coker made a trip a half-a-world away to see the serious impact of the fun had at Murfreesboro’s Thanksgiving Day Family Tradition.

“There was one Sunday at North Boulevard when we were looking at Lifelines (the church’s bulletin) and noticed they were looking for guys to do some construction work and they had one more spot to fill,” says Justin. “It seemed kind of strange there was one spot open. Our family had being praying about getting more involved and doing something. So I felt the nudge.”

Coker2013fJustin went on a trip organized by Joe Wakham to help with construction at Neema House, the orphanage in Geita, Tanzania, Africa, that is one of the primary recipients of the $250,000 Borodash has raised in it’s first 5 years. The crew worked on plumbing, a water heater on the roof and putting in a fence to secure the home. But the work of putting up a fence actually tore down the wall that surrounds so many hearts and released in Justin a need to give back.

“Just being there and seeing how the struggles of everyday life. Kids born to a family that can’t support them. Kids being left out in the elements to die. You walk away thankful and knowing the things that you think are necessitates, aren’t. It changes you.”

It changed more than Justin. It was a trip that impacted his whole family – his wife, Leslie, their three daughters, Maddy, Izzy and Katy – and the life of our community.

“Once you see how Neema House changes the lives of the children, it’s quite a motivator,” says Justin.

“It’s a small sacrifice on Thanksgiving Day, a day when we’re being thankful, to spend a few hours in the morning that can make an impact for life.”

For the last four years, the whole family has become deeply committed to Borodash.

Coker2012“Once Justin came back from Africa,” remembers Leslie, “he was changed. This was something we’ve got to do.

“It’s cold and early, but the kids are always excited to be apart of Borodash. We try to explain why we’re doing it and it’s so nice to see their little minds at work, taking it in. I love it.

“And then when you get there; it’s so much more than a race. It’s families getting together. Some are dressed up as turkeys or pumpkins or pies. Yes, pies! And more than all of this, it’s about so much good.”

“It’s wonderful to see your children feel like they’re making a small difference in the life of other children,” says Justin. “It’s the best kind of fun.”

Most of us will never make the trip to Africa. We may never walk by Greenhouse Ministries, Club YES! or The Family Center. But we can all run and walk 4 miles as family and community on Thanksgiving Day and take a few small steps toward changing the world.

If you have a Borodash story of your own, we invite you to share it with us at And, if you haven’t already, register today at and make a Thanksgiving Day memory of your own. Find out more about the four charities that Borodash will benefit this year at




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