My husband and I love to watch reality TV and game shows, especially the ones made up of teams that include married couples, like Amazing Race. We watch excitedly, discussing what we would do if we ever were on a show like that, living vicariously through the couples we see on screen. I would definitely be driver, he would navigate—we would be the perfect team. Who knew that that there are opportunities to participate in something very similar right in our area? The Morningside Ride and Poker Run is just that—an opportunity to engage in a fun team adventure, solving clues with a chance to win fun prizes and receive recognition, all while raising money for a good cause.

The Morningside Ride and Poker Run is the non-profits only fundraising event. Funds raised are used to support Morningside’s High School Transition Program for young people with disabilities. The program assists young people by helping them prepare for life after school. The transition program fills a gap by helping students develop job and soft skills training. The service also helps students with internships, job placement, and job coaching. Project SEARCH is one component of the High School Transition Program.

On Sunday, September 16 about 60 teams will check in at the Norman Worthington Conference Center at Saint Martin’s University and begin the Road Rally starting at 8:00 a.m. Similar to a scavenger hunt, participants will drive one of three planned routes, following directions, searching for clues and answering questions on their clue sheet. Each question can be solved without exiting the vehicle. The Ride is sponsored by Olympia Federal Savings, 94.5 ROXY and many other local businesses.

Morningside Ride Themes
Lindsey Bamba and her colleague dress up as Wayne and Garth, their favorite Saturday Night Live characters for the Morningside Ride. Photo courtesy: Lindsy Bamba

The ride is not your typical fundraiser,” says Jonathan Pleger, Morningside CEO, “it’s active and participatory.”

The Ride is also not a race. Each route is designed to take about an hour and a half, and contestants should have plenty of time to complete all the questions on their route. Following the rules of the road and safety are priority number one. Top scores will be given to most right answers filled in on the clue sheet. At key points during the ride, contestants will draw a card to turn in at the end of the road rally. The team with the best poker hand will win a prize.

“The routes are kept absolutely secret,” says Pam Stoutenburg, member of the planning committee and route master extraordinaire, “no one in the office knows them, but me.” Each year the route changes, and regular participants are able to enjoy a different Sunday drive around the backroads of Thurston County.

Lindsey Bamba, a branch manager at Olympia Federal Saving and Morningside Ride planning committee member, has been involved with the Morningside ride for eight years. “Not only does it support a great organization and a great cause, but it’s one of those fun events that gets you out in the community doing something unique,” she says. It’s a rain or shine activity because participants spend most of their time in the car with their team.

Morningside Ride Winners
First Place winners of the Morningside Ride 2017, Lindsey Bamba and her husband make a great team. Photo courtesy: Lindsy Bamba

One of the things that makes the Ride fun is the theme which encourages participants to dress up. Past themes include Pirates!, Saturday Night Live characters, and Morningside at the Movies. The theme this year is Safari, and teams are encouraged to get creative with their costumes. “There wasn’t always a theme,” says Stoutenburg. “People just dressed up to show team spirit and have fun, so after a while we added a theme to encourage participants to dress up.” Of course, costumes are optional. They are only a necessity for those competing for the best costume award.

This is the first year the route starting point will be the same as the ending point. After completing the course, participants will return to the Worthington Center where they will enjoy a delicious brunch, participate in raffles and learn a bit about what Morningside does for the community. Once the scores are all tallied, teams will be recognized for top scores, best costumes, and best poker hand. Raffle winners will be announced including the grand prize winner of a Sunriver Resort vacation.

To join the adventure on the Morningside Ride, register on the Morningside website. Raffle tickets for the grand prize can also be purchased at any Olympia Federal Savings branch.

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