SMILE Mass' Amazing Race - Why Aren't You Involved?
SMILE Mass’ Amazing Race: Why Aren’t You Involved
by David Mortimer
Barry Weiner, Nancy Rubenstein, Anna Lee, Heidi Severn, Joyce Willette and Gary Diomede are all folks who have been involved with SMILE Mass’ Amazing Race since its inception. All originally got involved because they had
met the founders of SMILE Mass, Lotte Diomede and Susan Brown, and found the cause worthy and Lotte and Susan’s enthusiasm to reach their lofty goals infectious.
The Amazing Race, which is in its third year, is based on the popular reality TV program where teams of up to eight members are given clues which lead them to various locations where they must perform tasks before moving on. For the past two years the locations were in Sudbury but this year the event has been moved to Boston’s
North End/Faneuil Hall areas. Nancy Rubenstein whose team Smile Masters are the reigning champions loved the event while it was in Sudbury. “It allowed us to do
outrageous things in our everyday environment and it was fun to get a behind the scenes look at places we only saw externally in our normal interactions.” But feels the change to Boston will also have its benefits. “It
will be exciting to get to know historic areas like Faneuil Hall and the North End in a more intimate way and get to interact with shopkeepers and store owners we would normally only know as customers.”
Motivation for participation varies: Barry Weiner whose team is The Longshots and is a single parent of two twelve-year-old severely disabled sons is focused on the fundraising aspect of the event. Barry, who lives in West Roxbury, Tells me he uses every means available to him; “I post for donations on Facebook, I paper my neighborhood with flyers soliciting contributions, I speak to community business about donations and contact my own
network lists.” The aforementioned Nancy Rubenstein sees the event as, “a fun way to be competitive while raising funds for a worthwhile cause” and her team page says it all, “We came in second the first year and won last year and this year we intend to keep the trophy!” Anna Lee works at Reebok (who is a sponsor of the Amazing Race this year) and last year her team was the Zig Outs (the
name of a Reebok product) and they came in second. This year she was solicited by a number of her colleagues to form another team having heard by word of mouth both the enjoyment of participating but also the close finish. This year the team is larger and is now named The Reevenge of the Reebokians...need anything else be added? By the way, her husband Gerard Verweij has a team of his own called the The Flying Dutchmen (since he doesn’t work for Reebok) and their motivation is fun, camaraderie and helping an important cause. Heidi
Severn and her husband Tom participated for two years on the Dudley Do-Right team but this year Heidi has switched roles to become a volunteer for the event due to a real shortage created by the change in venue but her husband has become a member of the Flying Dutchmen.
Heidi and Tom see SMILE Mass as “An organization that can bring real change into the lives of families with disabled children.” Joyce Willette is another member of The Flying Dutchmen who sees her purpose “to promote accessibility”. She suggested the image a of a mother trying to carry her ninety pound child on her hip around a beach while keeping an eye on her other children. “All it takes is the provision of a beach wheelchair from SMILE Mass to change a frustrating and exhausting experience to a pleasant one where everyone gets participate fully at the beach and the mother gets to enjoy it as well.”
Gary Diomede is Lotte’s husband and has led the Gary’s Gang team every year. He describes the growth
of the event in the microcosm of his team. “The first year was neighbors from Sudbury who knew Lotte and I and were aware of what we go through in raising our disabled son Nicholas. The next year the word spread and I was contacted by people I grew up with in West Roxbury
and Dedham asking to become involved and now the requests to join are coming from an even wider area.” Gary has a job which often takes him out of town but when he’s home on the weekends and out walking with Nicholas around Sudbury it’s not unusual to hear the beep of a horn
and have a car pull over wanting to know when the next Amazing Race is going to take place. He attributes the increasing awareness to a change in the suggested
way participants fund raise. “Now people are encouraged to get as many small donations as possible by using social media so it’s become like the ever spreading ripples in a pond and with the change in venue the pond has just
Please consider becoming a participant by joining an already existing team or even by forming a team of your own of co-workers, friends, neighbors or family. Please go to www.crowdrise.com/amazingrace2012 to become involved. Barry, Nancy, Anna, Heidi, Joyce and Gary can
all attest that you’ll have fun participating in in a competition which benefits a cause which is extremely important to every family with a disabled child. Unfortunately few of us can say that category doesn’t include someone in our social circle.
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