The community raised nearly $5,000 for the Benevolence School in Haiti during the 7th Annual Amazing Race Mt. Juliet held Aug. 8.
Tanna Clark, the founder of local ministry Grace & Glory, established the school in 2014 after multiple trips to the country’s orphanages. The Benevolence School has roughly 300 students grades K-8, and proceeds from the fundraiser make sure it stays up and running.
“It changes lives for these kids to be able to attend school, and it shows them there’s a way for them to get out of poverty,” Clark said. “We’re one of two schools in that area and we don’t even reach most of the kids there … the idea is to eventually establish a technical school at night so they can continue their education after eighth grade.”
Last year’s event raised a record $7,000 in support of the school, but this year’s 17 teams kept the money coming in despite COVID-19’s impact on the race structure.
Traditionally, the Amazing Race Mt. Juliet has allowed the community to help out by solving clues and completing challenges across the city — just like the reality show it’s named for.
“We didn’t want to cancel, but we knew we had to change it up,” event organizer Kristin Wall said. “In the past it was an adults-only event, but this year is bringing in kids.”
This year’s race saw families travel by car, receive clues remotely and complete socially distant challenges.
“I have volunteers texting out clues as opposed to passing something out,” Wall said. “Once you get that, you can go anywhere within the race boundaries to find it, and we have fun challenges like singing a song or doing a knock-knock joke. Normally you’d do something related to the place where the clue leads you, like learning a dance routine at Rockstar Academy of Dance.”
The kids may also get a chance to take on the traditional race next year after positive feedback from participants. Wall said the event has previously been geared toward adults because of its competitive atmosphere.
“Lots of people were excited about doing it with their kids there, and it went really well,” Clark said. “We’re definitely talking about continuing to do that, maybe by doing two races a year: one for families and one for adults.”
As the race has grown, so has the Benevolence School, and creating a second event could be the push it needs to provide technical education. Funds from the race also go toward operational costs like providing meals.
“We started out with around 10 kids, and seeing them not only just have an education, but become healthier has been amazing,” Clark said. “When we first started working with some of them their hair was rust-colored, which means they’re malnourished … and for them to overcome that, I’m so happy to be a part of that and see it.”
For more information about Grace & Glory and the Benevolence School, visit https://graceglorykids.org/the-benevo lence-school/.