Annual Rightditarod held in Marietta

Area food pantries can expect to receive donations of money and food after eight teams raced Saturday in the fourth annual Washington County Rightditarod.

“We wanted to see what this was about, have some fun and raise money for a good cause,” said Mark Greathouse, who participated in the Pleasant Hill Church team.

Greathouse was joined by fellow parishioners Barb Close, B.J. Allen and MariBeth Gazzale as the church participated in its first Rightditarod, adopting a 1980s theme. While the women dressed in dayglow and leg warmers with cut-up sweatshirts, Greathouse appeared to have the most fun as he donned a wig and running shorts to play fitness guru Richard Simmons.

“We were told they encouraged us to dress up and decorate our shopping cart, so we thought the (19) 80s would be a great theme,” said Close.

This was the first year for the event to begin and end at Food 4 Less, located at 110 S. 7th St., The previous three years’ events began at the parking lot at the corner of 2nd and Butler streets, said event chairman Justin Moody. The event is held in cooperation with Right Path for Washington County.

“This year’s race is less distance than when we were downtown, which is good for the teams,” Moody said.

In past years, the teams of five or more members went into downtown businesses to collect money and items. This year’s race had the teams go into Pike Street businesses, including True Value, Wendy’s, Auto Mart, Verizon and Food 4 Less, which also donated the shopping carts for the event. Heartland of Marietta provided shopping bags to aid the teams in carrying the items.

The teams raced their decorated shopping carts through the above businesses as they collected funds and non-perishable food items which will be given to 11 area food pantries, including the Harvest of Hope, said Moody.

“We heard about this through the grapevine and thought it would be a lot of fun and help others,” said Sam Dahler with The Hand-Me-Downs, who dressed in thrift store clothing.

The Rightditarod program is deemed the Right Path’s annual “race against hunger.”

During the Rightditarod, teams race shopping carts instead of dog sleds through participating businesses as they wear costumes. The local race is held in conjunction with the Alaskan Iditarod and is loosely based on the dog race that began in 1973.

Teams for the event are encouraged to get monetary donations. Last year’s teams raised almost $25,000 in donations towards the local food pantries’ account with the Marietta Community Foundation.

The goal for this year’s race is $10,000. It is unknown how much was raised at press time, but the Marietta Rotary Club had donated $2,420 before the race began.

The 2013 total exceeded the goal because of a generous $10,000 donation from Dominion Gas while the 15 participating teams raised more than $14,000 on their own, according to Cathy Harper, coordinator for the Right Path of Washington County.

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, Harper said.