LAWRENCEVILLE — On a delightfully sunny day without a cloud in the sky, the conditions were ideal for the “Flying Nuns” and the “Pigs in a Blanket” to race around Lawrenceville square in jazzed up bed sets Saturday.
Hundreds gathered to watch the eighth annual Family Promise of Gwinnett County charity bed race in downtown Lawrenceville created to raise awareness on ending homelessness in the county.
“We had flying nuns, we had pigs in a blanket, we had kids dragging a bed backwards; it’s a good time and a great way to serve God and have a lot of fun doing it,” said Mrs. Georgia 2017 pageant winner Melanie Caceres, who has served as an advocate for the FPGC’s efforts. “I’m really proud to be here to support Family Promise. I believe strongly in what they do, and the numbers just don’t lie — what they do works.”
Although the race was for charity, the competition was stiff in the three categories: adult, youth and clergy.
Event regular team ViaSat, Inc. finally captured first place in the adult category, dusting the flying nuns and several other teams with a best time of 32.75.
“We’ve been doing this now for three years with a different crew almost every year,” team captain Ray Lecture said. “So we had a new team except for me, so it was a great experience for all of us.”
McKendree’s Monsters won first place in the youth category in 33.62 and celebrated by hoisting their team captain on their shoulders in triumphant fashion. Westminster Clergy finished in 53:85 to take first place in the clergy category but were much more modest after their win.
Regardless of the outcome, the bed race experience was a success for Matt Elder, who was named the new executive director of FPGC on March 1.
“I didn’t know what to expect coming out here in terms of the crowd, but the crowd was fantastic,” Elder said. “The teams were fantastic, just with the different designs and the different beds that were out here were all a lot of fun.”
The bed race has become one of their most popular events, and the large crowd creates more opportunities to educate the public on homelessness.
“It’s one of our biggest fundraisers, and the reason we chose beds is the idea that every child should have a bed, every family should have a bed,” FPGC Board of Trustees President Lakeisha Cramer said. “Its very important because a lot of people don’t realize that homeless people are children and working families.”
Elder said volunteer and donation efforts have been on the rise in the past several weeks.
“The amount of people that have given since March 1 has been overwhelming,” he said. “I couldn’t have imagined a better response in the community in all honesty, whether it’s been churches or businesses or just people that I’ve met individually with overwhelming support, love and faith for what we are trying to do.”
Sporting her Mrs. Georgia crown and sash, Caceres has already guaranteed victory in next year’s race.
“I’m going to come back next year, and I’m going back to win,” she said with a laugh.