'Turtles' Race for Youth

'Turtles' Race for Youth

There were turtles everywhere. Well, actually there were sort of turtles everywhere. Well, they weren't really everywhere. They were pretty well herded into a race lane that wasn't really a race lane.

Whatever -- it worked. And, the Alexandria-Olympic Branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington is $5,500 richer thanks to the efforts of those little green rubber amphibians cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd of humans.

It all happened last Saturday at Cook Lake behind Cameron Run Waterpark on Eisenhower Avenue. That's where 3,400 rubber turtles were unceremoniously dropped into the lake from a dump truck to make their trek down a rope lined race-course as a crowd of adults and children waited in anticipation to see who would be declared the winner.

Aiding the process were four volunteers in kayaks trying desperately to keep the green rubber herd within the race lines, as the current carried them forward at a turtle pace. It was the First Annual Turbo Turtle Trek.

"We have had a lot of support for this event both by the city and our sponsors. But, next year we will definitely do some things a little differently," said James Almond, executive director, Alexandria Boys & Girls Club.

"We would have liked the weather to have been a little warmer. We are looking at August next year. We also hope to hold the race in the wave pool of the water park," he said.

"For a first-time event, it was embraced by the city and the citizens of Alexandria. There was a lot of support from everyone and we are very pleased with the turnout," said David Woodbury, club president.

Each turtle in the race was sponsored either by an individual or a business/corporation. Turtles were "adopted" by the sponsors in amounts ranging from $5 for a single turtle to $90 for a Ninja Crew of 20.

Corporate sponsorships ranged from $250 to $5,000. "Our primary sponsor was "Help You Sell," a discount real estate company who gave us $5,000," Almond said following the race.

"We also had two sponsors at $1,000. They were AmeriGroup and Signs By Tomorrow. Overall, we raised $24,000 but our expenses came in at a little over $18,000," he said. "But, it was a good start and we hope to do even better next year."

According to Almond, the top five prize winners and their gifts were:

* First prize, a 52-inch projection television valued at $1,200, donated by AmeriGroup, went to Jim Elliott of Falls Church.

* Second prize, a motorized Go-Kart valued at $500, donated by RSM McGladdrey, went to Mossey Kernan of Alexandria.

* Third Prize, a $250 Home Depot gift certificate, went to Michael Lyons of Alexandria.

* Fourth prize, a $250 Safeway gift certificate, went to Joyce Henderson of Northern Virginia.

* Fifth prize, a jewel necklace valued at $225, went to Matt McKinnis of Alexandria.

"There were 10 other prize winners who received gifts ranging from court-side seats to a Wizards game to season passes to Six Flags amusement park," Almond said. In addition to the 2 p.m. race, there were other family-type events throughout the day.

The $5,500 net proceeds will provide funds for the myriad activities of the club that serves approximately 430 youth annually with everything from special tutoring, to computer classes, to sports leagues.