Firefighters run Drumstick Dash in full gear

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The Drumstick Dash celebrates ten years Thanksgiving morning, with its biggest field ever.

Organizers are hoping that up to 17,000 people will take part in either the 2.5- or 4.6-mile run/walk through Broad Ripple.

Besides having become a popular family tradition, the Drumstick Dash is the largest fundraiser for Wheeler Ministries.

Indianapolis International Airport firefighter Chris Bauchle will run his fourth Drumstick Dash.

"I think any firefighter will tell you that's the best part of the job, to make a career out of helping people so it stems to from that desire," said Bauchle.

But Bauchle's connection to the cause actually runs a bit deeper. He grew up volunteering at the Wheeler Mission with his family. He says he learned a lot about homelessness.

"Just how it can happen to anyone," he said. "Hearing some of the different guys and women and their stories and how they wound up in the position they're in."

As a result, Bauchle recruited 13 other firefighters from the airport, Grissom Air Force Base and the Greenwood fire department to run the Dash while raising extra money for Wheeler.

But unlike most participants, they won't be running in shorts and T-shirts. They will run in full firefighter gear. That includes their bunker pants, coat, safety hood, helmet, face mask and air pack. Some will also run with tools, an ax or sledgehammer, which will add 60-80 pounds of added weight.

While he acknowledged that's not easy over 2.5 miles, Bauchle said, "What's important to us is keeping in mind however tired we are, carrying the weight pales in comparison next to the weight of everything you own, like so many do every day in Indy."

As of Wednesday morning, the Bauchle and his fellow firefighters had raised more than $1,100 for Wheeler Ministries. Aside from that, Wheeler is hoping to raise $575,000 through the event.

To donate directly to the firefighters' cause, click here.