ELKHART — Quick — who’s the Elkhart mayor?
Answer: Dick Moore.
With that and other questions, 19 teams launched the Amazing Elkhart Race on Saturday, May 18, a fundraiser for Church Community Services. They dashed around Elkhart, faced mental and physical challenges and, even before the competition got underway, raised around $17,000 for CCS.
“We at CCS believe that compassion is really local and you guys epitomize that,” Rod Roberson, the CCS executive director, told the competitors at the Civic Plaza prior to the start of the race.
The event — modeled after the CBS television program “The Amazing Race” — serves mainly to raise funds for the CCS food pantry, the agency’s Soup of Success program and its emergency financial assistance program. Roberson called it a “huge deal,” noting the funds raised and the fact that it gets many otherwise unfamiliar with CCS acquainted with the organization.
For those taking part, though, much of the focus was on winning and, of course, having fun. Team Kem Krest took first place, winning $1,000; the Flying Squirrels finished in second, earning $800; and Team McGladrey finished third, getting a dinner for six.
‘WHATEVER IT TAKES’
As they waited for the race to start around noon Saturday, members of the team 3 and a Half Men — friends since their days at Concord High School — described, jokingly, their cutthroat strategy.
“Tripping,” said Jordan Swartzendruber.
“Slashing tires,” said Cameron Bradley.
“‘Whatever it takes’ is our motto,” said Steve Peterson.
A team made up of teachers from Model Elementary School in Goshen, the Mousketeechers, sported Minnie Mouse ears and red skirts with white polka dots. “We’re trying to get the costume prize,” said Brooke Lemmon, alluding to the honor bestowed on the team with the most distinctive outfit.
The Thin Mints wore multi-colored tutus, pink and yellow tie-dyed T-shirts and mismatched striped socks. The Rabid Rabbits wore rabbit ears on their heads and rabbit tails on their rear ends.
“I’m glad to be here,” said Dan Boecher, one of the rabbits (and also active in downtown development efforts). “This whole get-up? Not so much.”
The Amazing Elkhart Race, now in its second year, brought the participants to businesses, churches, museums and other landmarks scattered around the city. Team members answered questions and completed physical challenges at each location — the Dick Moore question was part of a crossword puzzle that was the initial challenge — moving on until completing the course.
Before they even started Saturday, participants raised donations from friends and others, even held their own mini-fundraisers to generate money for CCS. Corporate contributors also pitched in.