The competition was on when 125 contestants competed up and down Main Street in the Port Washington Education Foundation's first-ever Amazing Race fundraiser, raising dollars for district-wide education programs on Saturday evening. Forty-five minutes after the contestants surged down Irma Avenue, the team dubbed the "Super Six" crossed the finish line at Om Sweet Om.
The winning team's secret? "We sprinted the whole time," said team member Trudy Grieco.
Grieco and her teammates Pam McDonough, Susie Beil and Linda Caruso were one of 16 teams that paid $75 a head to tackle a series of challenges at participating merchants along a stretch of Main Street and Port Boulevard. The event offered other forms of sponsorship opportunities, and while PWEF declined to name the amount of raised on Saturday, Paula Whitman, event co-chair, declared the evening a great success.
Peals of laughter provided the soundtrack for the night as the teams crisscrossed up and down Main Street performing tasks ranging from the ridiculous (riding the mechanical toy horse at Gail's Stride Rite) to the sublime (two-minute head massages at Massage Envy). Other challenges included frosting cupcakes at Sweet Comfort Café & Bakery, building a wooden toolbox from a kit at Castle Repair and mastering a group dance routine at Dance Arts.
The winning team declared their favorite task to be setting each other's hair in rollers and pigtails at Maxx Hair. Tackling trivia at The Candy Store was the toughest. The clue, "Mikey ate these while drinking soda," was almost the team's undoing. The answer, Pop Rocks, is rooted in the 80's urban legend that Mikey, child-star of bygone Life Cereal ads, died after mixing the candy with cola.
While the event was billed as competition, camaraderie was the evening's prevailing spirit. The 12-person team clad in "Bland on the Run" tee shirts was sanguine about their chances. Port Washington resident and Deputy County Executive Pat Foye said they expected to finish "firmly in the middle."
Fellow teammate David Buss explained the team's self-deprecating name saying, "We have three tax attorneys, a government official and a computer geek. The only name that captures it all is "Bland on the Run.'" Team captain and PWEF board member Ellen Fox chimed in laughingly, "we even have two hip replacements."
Athleticism may not have been a race requirement but that didn't stop the district's physical education department from fielding a team. Additionally, Weber staff created not just one, but two teams and Sousa school fielded a team as well. District teachers were also sprinkled throughout many of the other teams.
"We always try to support the PWEF in their fundraising, said Arthur Cooke, who teaches Latin at Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School. "They support us in what we do, so we try to support them."
The PWEF is a non-profit, community organization providing grants for projects that enhance educational opportunities in the Port Washington public school district. Since 2001, the foundation has awarded more than $400,000 in grants throughout the district's seven schools. The PWEF funds initiatives ranging from K-12 public speaking programs to Smart Boards and LCD projectors in the classroom.