KEARNEY — The Kids & Dreams Foundation is hoping its Mouse Madness event is more than just a rat race.
The event March 6 will raise money for a summer camp designed for kids with autism.
“We wanted to do something different and unique,” said Aaron Bly, the Kids & Dreams Foundation’s executive director and president. “From what we’ve heard, people have gotten a little tired of the same thing.”
Mouse Madness will feature six preliminary mouse races with the winner of each preliminary round advancing to a final championship race.
Each rodent is sponsored, and the sponsor gets to pick the mouse’s name. Names so far include Mousecretariat, Julius Cheeser, Mr. Jingles and Forrest.
Of course, the evening still will feature a dinner, drawing and other traditional elements of a nonprofit fundraiser. But main entertainment will be something few have experienced.
When the idea of a mouse race was introduced at a foundation board meeting, Bly said the general reaction was “What are you talking about?” As they’ve introduced the idea publicly, others have had the same reaction.
Kearney’s event won’t be the first mouse race ever hosted, though. A company based in Kansas City has hosted several “Rat-ucky Derby” events before, and will be running the Kearney event, plus providing the racers, at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds Ag Pavilion.
With several rounds, the race portion of the evening should take about two hours. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m., then races begin at 7.
From videos he’s seen of races, it’s hard to know what to expect, Bly said, as the mice aren’t trained athletes.
In one race video he watched, a mouse sped out of the gate, only to stop just before the finish line, turn around and walk back to the start.
Though the foundation has no tangible fundraising goal, as it’s the first time, all the funds raised from Mouse Madness will go toward Operation Shine Camp, an overnight summer camp experience designed for children with autism.
Kids & Dreams has hosted a camp since 2015 at Covenant Cedars Bible Camp in Hordville. Last summer, the organization announced plans to host a second summer camp in 2020 at Maranatha Bible Camp near Maxwell.
The three-day camp costs about $40,000 to run.
Ticket sales, mouse sponsorships and a corporate sponsorship will help fund the camp. Event tickets are $15 for an individual or $25 for a couple, and includes a dinner of pulled pork sandwiches, made with meat donated from Tyson Foods, sides and dessert. They may be purchased at www.kidsanddreams.org.
As of Wednesday, there were a few mice left of the total 36 to sponsor. Sponsoring a mouse is $40. The title sponsor for the event is Valley Pharmacy.
Bly hopes the novelty of the event will inspire curious crowds.
“It’s something different and unique, and hopefully we can get people to check it out and just have a good time,” Bly said.