When Family Promise of Effingham held its inaugural bed race fundraiser last spring, Ashley Moore had not yet come on board as the organization’s executive director.
After taking part in the second annual bed race Saturday at Effingham County High School, Moore was impressed.
“We had a lot of great participation,” Moore said, “so I’m excited that it went so well and I can’t wait ‘til next year.”
Donations from the bed race assist Family Promise in helping local homeless families get back on their feet. The fundraiser brought in more than $10,000 for the second straight year, according to board member Jean Vaught.
The funds from last year’s bed race helped prepare Family Promise of Effingham to open its doors in late June. Since then, Family Promise has opened its day center in Springfield and assisted six families.
“The first (bed race) was exciting because we were getting the money to open the program, and now it’s, ‘OK, we still need the funds to continue to help these families,’” Moore said. “Moving forward, let’s not forget about the program and keep making it grow and being able to add more families to the ones that we can graduate.”
The bed race is symbolic of Family Promise’s efforts to help homeless families, through churches hosting them for a week at a time. The host church serves the family dinner each night and gives them a place to sleep, with Family Promise providing the beds.
“Everything we’re doing here is to raise money to help those people in our community that need the most help,” said David Harris, president of Family Promise of Effingham’s board of directors. “While we’re out here celebrating what Family Promise is, we’re actively helping families at the exact same time in a nearby church and day center.”
The 20 teams in this year’s bed race were a combination of repeat participants from last year and newcomers. Adult and youth teams came up with creative motifs for their beds-on-wheels.
Faith Presbyterian Church brought back its “Wizard of Oz” theme from last year, since “there’s no place like home” for a family without one. The youth from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church entered a replica of the “Flintstones” car. The repeat champions in the youth division, the “Screamin’ Divas,” were a group of five friends sporting colorful feather boas and socks.
One of Gateway Community Church’s five teams had an “American Hot Rod” theme — and lived up to it. Along with winning the faster pastor division and the people’s choice award, the hot rodders notched the fastest time of the day, covering their final 200-meter heat in just 27 seconds.
But it was another Gateway team that garnered the most attention. Team Wikiwiki — which means “fast” in Hawaiian — won the open division’s most creative design award for its Hawaiian theme, complete with three men on the team wearing coconut bras and grass skirts.
Team member Jason Hall acknowledged they didn’t run their wardrobe idea by church pastor Andy Lamon ahead of time. Lamon didn’t see it until Saturday morning when he arrived for the bed race.
“He started laughing from the get-go,” Hall said. “Everybody couldn’t believe we did it.”
And as Hall’s wife Amber pointed out, “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.”
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