Two men stood on the sidelines of the Family Promise Bed Race Saturday morning, jacket hoods shrouding their heads to shield from slow, but steady precipitation.
“Sheriff’s office is gonna win it,” said Jeremy Murphy of Cumming.
“Nope,” said Chris Nicholson of Dawsonville, “Firefighters.”
Nicholson gave a thumbs up to the group of Forsyth County Fire Department staff as they bent, ready to push the makeshift fire truck/twin bed combo toward the finish line.
To their right, members of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office steadied themselves behind a speedy-looking bed-mobile.
A woman with a bullhorn shouted “Go!” It was over in a matter of seconds, the sheriff’s department victorious.
Nicholson crossed his arms: “Shoot.”
Despite soggy, less than ideal weather Saturday morning, Family Promise Executive Director Tina Huck said the third annual Family Festival and Bed Race at Cumming First United Methodist was a “fabulous success.”
“Everyone had a great time … and we were blessed with a short break in the weather, and the racers were all about racing those beds,” Huck said, adding that the event was also successful in its financial goals for Family Promise, though the donations had not yet been tallied.
Family Promise aims to help homeless families by providing essential services to achieve sustainable independence, and proceeds from Saturday’s event will go to support the group and those client families.
Kim Maddox (the woman with the bullhorn at the race Saturday) said she got involved with Family Promise because she wanted to help homeless children.
Maddox said the bed race brings out new people and helps “make them aware of the organization. It attracts the community to see what we’re all about.”
And just what is Family Promise all about?
In short, the organization helps families experiencing homelessness. In cooperation with community churches and volunteers, Family Promise provides a safe place to stay and meals along with programs and support to help families gain or regain sustainable independence.
Amy Gamez, a social worker with Forsyth County Schools, said people in her profession often work very closely with Family Promise, referring families and getting them connected.
“The bed race really, truly helps our families in Forsyth, and we see it firsthand in the school system,” Gamez said. “We work with families who unfortunately go through difficult circumstances and find themselves homeless, and it’s amazing we have a program that can lift families up and put them back on their feet again.”
Gamez and her teammates’ bed, the Bed Bug Brigade, aimed to bring awareness to the problem of head lice and bed bugs that social workers often combat in order to help their client families.
Her team won the category of most creative; fastest bed was the Creekside United Methodist Church; the brass bed award (for most money raised) went to the Forsyth County Fire Department Station 6; and in the much celebrated, so-called “Guns vs. Hoses race,” the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office was the victor, much to Nicholson’s chagrin.
As the race ended, the man shook his head, walking toward his car.
“Hey, where’s my money?” Murphy asked. “Pay up!”