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Bed races raise funds for homeless ministry

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Team "Bed of Moses" pushers Taylor Ramos, Kirk Kirkpatrick, Ben Davis, Trevor Ramos and driver Cliff Ramos as "Moses" approach the finish line during the third annual Bed Race to benefit Family Promise in Lawrenceville on Saturday.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Team "Bed of Moses" pushers Taylor Ramos, Kirk Kirkpatrick, Ben Davis, Trevor Ramos and driver Cliff Ramos as "Moses" approach the finish line during the third annual Bed Race to benefit Family Promise in Lawrenceville on Saturday.

Video

Third annual Bed Race to benefit Family Promise

Video from the third annual Bed Race to benefit Family Promise on Saturday, April 21, 2012 in Downtown Lawrenceville.

Video from the third annual Bed Race to benefit Family Promise on Saturday, April 21, 2012 in Downtown Lawrenceville.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- For the third straight year, supporters of Family Promise took over the streets of downtown Lawrenceville on Saturday, racing specialty modified beds to help raise money and awareness for homeless families in need of aid.

In what should be the only necessary time to wear a seat belt while on a mattress, participants had no plans of slowing down as they pushed their beds around the Historic Courthouse. Hundreds of supporters lined the streets to cheer on their favorite beds. Each team donned wacky outfits to go along with their themed beds onwheels.

David Chandley, WSB-TV channel 2's meteorologist, was on hand as grand marshal for the second straight year. Chandley also served as play-by-play announcer for the races.

"There is definitely a sense of wild competition between the teams, where everyone has their game faces on and they really want to win." Chandley said.

"How cool is it that the people are coming out to help other people that they don't even know," he added. "There is definitely power in working together."

Nearly 150 people participated in Saturday's event, making it the largest race so far. Last year's fundraising total of $7,000 was easily surpassed with more beds racing and a larger crowd. The grand total for the event came to about $12,500, with the two-time defending champions, The Grateful Bed, raising $4,550 on their own.

"Since this is our third race, we expected more people to come out, and they did," said Brett Bohanon, the executive director of Family Promise in Gwinnett County. "We designed the race as a fun way to address a serious issue."

The overall winners of the Bed Race were the Holy Rollers from Norcross First United Methodist Church, who unseated the top performers of the last two years, the Grateful Bed. The Holy Rollers attributed their success to having a "stable front end" and "strong pushers" to come away with the first place time of 36.63 seconds in their final heat.

"It took us six to seven hours to build the bed last Sunday after church with the help of our master builder, Tony Wilkens," team captain Rick Busby said. "We want everyone to know that you can be holy and still have fun." Busby's wife, Susan, came up with the team name, while their son helped paint the bed.

Winning in the Youth bracket, Super Mario, of Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church in Duluth, dressed up as characters from the popular Nintendo game franchise.

"We made the bed in about two hours, spending only $20," said team member Alex Reinecke. "We were worried when we first got here because everyone else had such huge beds, but we came away winners anyway."

Family Promise also recognized one special alumnae of their program at the conclusion of their awards presentation: Sarah Jackson, a graduate of the Family Promise program.

"I am thankful and blessed to have received so much help, and I am getting a group together to race, so look for us next year in our dust," said Jackson, who holds two jobs while also attending school at Georgia Gwinnett College.

The ministry for the homeless has an average stay of 66 days, and 77 percent of the families graduate their program with full-time employment and permanent housing. The Gwinnett County Family Promise affiliate has an 82 percent success rate.

Last November, Family Promise opened up the Saltlight Center, an emergency shelter for women and children. Since it opened, more than 90 women and children have been helped.

For more information on the organization, visit its website at familypromisegwinnett.org