Rightditarod tops $20,000

Freezing temperatures and snow welcomed dozens of adult and children racers on Saturday for the third annual Washington County Rightditarod, sponsored by the Right Path for Washington County.

“We told everyone who signed up to participate that rain, snow, sleet, whatever happened, we would be here and they all still showed up,” said Cathy Harper, coordinator for the Right Path.”We had a lot of great things happen and were able to raise money for area food pantries.”

This year, 15 teams of up to five members dressed up in fun costumes and raced decorated shopping carts through downtown Marietta to collect funds and non-perishable food items. The carts were donated by Food 4 Less, located at 110 South Seventh St., specifically for the event.

The teams collectively raised more than $20,000 in addition to hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for 11 area food pantries, which includes the Harvest of Hope, Harper said.

The goal for this year’s race was $10,000, with $7,500 having already been raised through the Broughton Ice Cream Social in July 2012.

“Dominion East Ohio had already donated $10,000 through the Marietta Community Foundation as matching funds if we could raise another $10,000 this year,” Harper explained. “We split the money from the ice cream social with the food pantries, which gave us $7,500 toward the match, and another $3,000 was raised during this year’s Rightditarod.”

Last year’s teams collected $12,335 while the 2011 race collected $12,333.

“Everything goes to the food pantries, except the $25 entry fee which goes to the Right Path,” Harper added. “And the Memorial Health System paid the kids’ entry fees.”

The Right Path for Washington County began the Rightditarod two years ago to raise funds for area food pantries by meeting a variety of challenges. The event takes a cue from the Alaskan Iditarod and is loosely based on the dog race that began in 1973 by substituting shopping carts for dog sleds and costumed people for the canines as the teams race between three-and-a-half to four miles.

“This is the first time we’ve done this race and it has been a lot of fun,” said Brianna Doan, 15, with the Frontier High School Key Club.

The team of four students with parent and team captain Brandie Doan decorated their cart with pink balloons and hay while they dressed up at piglets for “The Five Little Piggies” theme.

“We wanted to do something to help the community as a club and this has been a lot of fun,” said Brandie Doan. “I am very proud of how enthusiastic they have been and how hard they have worked to help others.”

Teams for the event are encouraged to collect monetary donations. Last year’s teams collected $12,333 in donations toward the local food pantries’ account with the Marietta Community Foundation.

The first Rightditarod race included 12 teams of five racers each who participated through heavy rains. Last year’s race included 11 teams who, while they braved freezing temperatures, had sunny skies.

“I was worried about the weather this year because I thought some teams would not show up, but this is really fantastic,” Harper said of Saturday’s cold and snowy weather.

The goal of the Right Path is to engage youth in positive activities to foster healthy development and get them to feel involved in their community through service. Food drive projects are ongoing through schools and clubs.

Sam Shawver contributed to this story.