Turtle race proves beneficial for agency
The Turbo Turtle was a hot commodity at Saturday's tiny-k turtle race at the Tonganoxie Swimming Pool.
Organizers requested nearly 1,100 turtles to be "adopted" for the race.
By 5 p.m. Friday, 1,000 turtles had been adopted.
There were 90 turtles available Saturday morning before the race, but they were sold out roughly a half-hour before the event got under way. The turtles were adopted for $5 each, with prizes such as airline tickets and a one-night stay for four at the Great Wolf Lodge up for grabs.
Proceeds from the event, which went to the tiny-k Early Intervention Services Program, reached roughly $5,500, according to director Dawn O'Brien.
Since starting the event in 2004, the organization keeps adopting out more and more turtles.
During the first turtle race, the organization adopted out 600 turtles and last year, the group adopted out 800. This year, O'Brien said tiny-k set its goal at 1,000 turtles.
"To meet it and exceed, it is a huge thrill," O'Brien said of the goal.
Tiny-k provides various infant-toddler health services, at no cost to families. The services are geared for children up to age 3, who live in Leavenworth County. The service, which is based in Leavenworth, is part of the non-profit organization Nurturing Families, Inc., which assists families of children from birth to 18 years.
"What they're doing for our family is awesome," said Deidra Roberts of Lansing, whose 18-month-old son, Dalton, receives therapy through the tiny-k program.
Deidra said that about eight months ago, doctors discovered Dalton had moderate to severe hearing loss. She said tiny-k specialists have helped Dalton with speech and signing.
Other festivities at Saturday's turtle race included children's games and a hot dog roast.
Roberts said people's generosity in adopting all the turtles was amazing.
"I'm just happy that people will help them out, for everything they do," said Roberts as she held Dalton, who flashed a huge grin as he waved his arms in the air.
The tiny-k program was established in July 2003. O'Brien said the program has assisted more than 1,000 Leavenworth County children and does 600 evaluations a year. In addition, it has provided therapy to more than 170 children so far this year.
"Brian" the turtle
During the Country Stampede music festival earlier this summer in Manhattan, tiny-k had a booth where those who attended could adopt turtles.
O'Brien said a man from Canada, whom they simply knew as Brian, approached the booth. He was so impressed with the tiny-k program that he told passers-by he would match every turtle they adopted.
After four hours, Brian had adopted 100 turtles himself, which in turn meant tiny-k organizers left Manhattan having adopted out 200 turtles.
O'Brien said Brian was "like an angel who approached."
"We never met him before," O'Brien said. "He just took up our cause."
And, O'Brien couldn't properly thank Brian because he never signed his own name to any of the turtle adoption forms. Rather, he put down names of other people he knew.
In addition, Brian was selling aluminum statues at the festival, one of which was a 70-pound turtle. Before leaving the show, he gave one of his turtles to O'Brien. She did an Internet search of aluminum statues and eventually found his name. She then sent an e-mail thanking him for his contributions.
And the winners are
Now the turtle, which O'Brien properly named "Brian," accompanies the group whenever it's at a Turbo Turtle function.
On Saturday, the small plastic "adopted" turtles raced from east to west across the Tonganoxie pool.
Winning the grand prize, two round-trip tickets from Southwest Airlines, was Jackie Pierron from McLouth. The runner-up prize, a one-night stay at Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City, Kan., went to Jill Buckland of Lawrence.
And, winning two tickets through AirTran airlines was Julie Champoux of Marysville. Champoux's winning turtle was randomly selected after the top winners were announced.