Thousands run in Boulevard Bolt - WSMV Channel 4

Thousands run in Boulevard Bolt

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Before the turkey and stuffing Thursday, thousands lined up at the starting line for an annual Nashville tradition.

The gun went off bright and early at The Boulevard Bolt Thursday morning.

It was a big first for Amy Saffell - to wear a Boulevard Bolt race bib.

"This is a race I've always heard about, but before Achilles I never thought I could do safely," said wheelchair athlete Amy Saffell.

Achilles International Nashville is a nonprofit organization. It pairs able-bodied runners with those who have disabilities.

For this race, Saffell and her guides add some Christmas flair to their outfits.

"When you are in a crowd this big, it's difficult for me being so low," said Saffell. "My able-bodied athletes that are with me can help me see if there are things coming up.

One of Saffell's teammates is Ricky Jones, who is legally blind.

He said this five-mile course is training for the ultimate race - the New York City Marathon.

"When you are running, it gives you that freedom that my disability doesn't matter," said Jones. "I'm out there running able bodied just like everyone else."

Saffell and Jones were among more than 8,000 people who laced up their sneakers, many in costume.

"We're celebrating Thanksgiving, so we have our Native American, pilgrim and our gobble-gobble turkey," said runner Lizzie Harrigan.

The Nashville Food Project is one of the organizations that benefit from The Boulevard Bolt. It's like a mobile kitchen and they go into neighborhoods and feed those who may not eat.

"The money we use from the Bolt goes to purchase food and food supplies, fuel for our trucks and allows us to do the work we do in the homeless community," said Tallu Schuyler Quinn of the Nashville Food Project.

This alone has raised more than $2 million for organizations that serve the homeless over the past 19 years. It's all thanks to the many who run, walk, shuffle and roll through the starting line.

Three Belle Meade congregations - St. George's Episcopal Church, The Temple and Immanuel Baptist Church - put on the race each year.

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