The Right Path for Washington County's Righditarod No. 3, our own "race against hunger," was a great success, thanks to the many volunteers, supporters and teams. We had 15 teams this year, including 12 youth teams comprised of high school and college students. Thanks to Memorial Health Systems' Jesse Thompson, our youth teams' registrations were paid for.
Last year we were challenged to match the $10,000 donation from Dominion East Ohio, given to the Food Pantry Fund at Marietta Community Foundation. Thanks to our wonderful community support as Broughton Ice Cream Social recipient, we shared approximately $7,500 with our pantry partners. In addition, Wendy's CEO Ray Blackburn and wife, Kim, have pledged an additional $500 to the fund.
Teams that sign up in advance of the race are given a packet that includes a donation form. They can ask friends and families to sponsor them or make a donation. In the past this has raised anywhere from $1,500 to $1,800. We give each team an evaluation form at the end of the race so that we can make next year's race even better. In Prevention we call this "lessons learned" and we always have several good suggestions that we implement in the following year.
Last year teams that signed up on the day of the event felt at a disadvantage because they didn't have donations to share at sign-up. This year we continued the donation form in the registration packet and added an event called "Running Makes Sense," where each team was given a coffee can for donations collected along their route. This year the combined donations totaled over $2,100, bringing our grand total to over $20,000.
Why is this race against hunger important to the Right Path? Our mission is to promote healthy youth development and we employ a variety of strategies to meet our goal. We work with school service groups, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, youth serving groups and organizations all working together to strengthen our community, provide opportunities for youth to give back to their community and be involved in something that is bigger than them. Many of them know hunger or know someone that has gone to bed hungry. Research tells us that youth that are involved in community service feel more connected to their community. This is their opportunity to give back in a way that is meaningful to them.
Righditarod is fun for a serious cause and it couldn't happen without the hard work and dedication of so many people working together. Our pantry partners are hit hard the months after the holidays and before the large Postal System food drive that takes place in May. Our goal is to stock the shelves of the pantries and provide dollars to support the work of the 11 pantries and the Harvest of Hope, our community gardens. This year 15 teams shopped Food 4 Less with a list comprised of the most sought after items our pantries use on a daily basis. The generosity of the teams and many others who donated items is greatly appreciated by the pantries and The Right Path.
Thank you to the following for your support in a number of ways. If I have overlooked anyone, I apologize, as it takes many hands working together to pull off the "mother-lode" of community service projects: Roger Forshey of Roger's Imaging has been our photographer for many years, showing us how to take night shots in our early years and remaining with us through our three Righditarods; The Right Path: Maggie and Andrew Webster, Karen and Carl Waller, Lynn Doebrich our Righditarod Chair and Mark Doebrich, Stephanie Davis, Joellen Masten, Alicia Masten, Miriam Keith, Kelly Cox, Sheila Lovett, Becky Longgrear, Justin Moody, Stephanie Davis, Joellen Masten, Greg Siegfried, Ashley Cronin, Dee and Bill Standish, Gary Williams, Letha Haas, Bruce Johnson and many others working behind the scenes; Washington County Behavioral Health Board: David Browne, Miriam Keith; Clear Channel Radio: Greg Siegfried, John Chalfant, Kirk McCall, Chuck Poet; WTAP: Phil Hickman, Todd Baucher; Marietta Times: Claire Heiby, Christian Hudspeth, Sam Shawver, Evan Bevins; WMOA: John Wharff; Anchor: Brad Bauer; Wendy's: Ray and Kim Blackburn for their generous donation; Tim Horton's: Kathy Ferguson for their generous donation of hot chocolate and coffee for our warming station; Memorial Health Systems for their generous donation to our youth teams; Darlene Davis, Memorial Health Systems and Righditarod supporter, photographer and hands on wherever we need her; Ohio Valley Veterinary; Food 4 Less: Kin Brewer and Bucky Lee and their wonderful employees for lending their carts, allowing teams to run through their store in their quest for shopping list items and perform silly challenges along the way; Apex Tru Value: Ben Cogswell, our official cart hauler to and from the Galley; The Galley: Greg, Audrey and John for the use of the parking lot, being our partner, serving our teams and numerous small details you helped us with; The City of Marietta: MPD Chief McKitrick And Captain Waite, MFD Chief Durham, Jonathan Hupp, Susan Joyce, Todd Stockel; Smitty's Pizza and Juanita Lannigan; Memorial Health Systems; Boy Scout Troop 207 and Roger Stoll; Over The Moon Pizzeria and Michael Mullen; Jim Amrine of Amrine Awards for our beautiful plaques each year; Discount Signs and Awnings, Penny and Kenny Weeks for our original banner and changing the date each year; Dominion East Ohio for their generous contribution to the food pantry fund at Marietta Community Foundation; Neil Schilling and Broughton Food for donating water and lemonade for our teams; Marietta College for their student teams and challenge location; Marietta Community Foundation: Heather and Carol for going above and beyond in their support of our race and The Right Path; Harmar Village for their continued support each year as challenge sites; Selby Tobacco Prevention; Kiwanis; Rotary; MHS SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), Fort Frye Cadets for a Cause; Belpre HS student council; Frontier High School Key Club; Washington County Juvenile Center; Judge Tim Williams; our 11 county food pantries; Harvest of Hope; Washington State Community College for their continued support; Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce for their support; Betsey Mills, Linda Lewis for hosting a challenge site; United Way of the Mid-Ohio Valley and Greater Washington County United Way.
Plan on putting your team together now, so you will be ready for next year's Righditarod No. 4.
Cathy Harper is coordinator of The Right Path, a United Way Agency.