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For Children in Need of Beds, Bedrace to the Rescue

Published: Thursday, February 23, 2012

Updated: Friday, February 24, 2012 16:02


Courtesy AZ Bedrace

Sparky rides his bed down the Bedrace raceway. The event raises money to provide beds for families in need.


Racecar beds, once the dream of every 6-year-old boy to have in his room, will be used as vehicles to help children in need on Saturday, February 25, at Tempe Marketplace.

Bridging AZ Furniture Bank is hosting the second annual AZ Bedrace, and all proceeds from the event go to providing impoverished children with clean and comfortable beds.

Bridging AZ, a non-profit organization, is the only furniture bank in Arizona. It operates much like a food bank, offering furniture and household items to economically disadvantaged families. Jim Piscopo founded Bridging AZ in 2004 to help families transitioning out of hardship create a comfortable home environment. The Bedrace supports Bridging AZ's campaign to collect and donate 5,000 beds for children in the next five years.

"It's important for kids to have the feeling of security and comfort having their own bed brings," Piscopo said. "It gives them place of their own."

The Bedrace was developed last year by Kate Wander, an Arizona State University intern at Bridging AZ. Wander put the event together in about three months, Piscopo said.

Wander began her internship at Bridging AZ in 2011 during her senior year as a communications major at ASU. She said she wanted to intern at a non-profit because it was a way to volunteer, and saw a post Piscopo put up on the ASU career services page for an internship. Piscopo hired Wander at an ASU job fair.

Wander was working a full-time job and was taking six classes at the time, "You don't really sleep." But, she said she was willing to make sacrifices to help the organization.

Her first step in helping Bridging AZ — to put on an event that would raise money and awareness for the furniture bank, she said.

"Jim had already started the idea for the Bedrace," Wander said. "He tried to put on the event with another intern; they wanted to have it at a park."

Wander changed the venue to Tempe Marketplace, where more people would be likely to see it, she said. "Tempe Marketplace is constantly busy, having it there would bring attention and sponsors."

Wander said that it was tough to get sponsors in their first year, but this year many more have signed up "after seeing what a success the first event was." Sponsors from the marketplace include the Verizon store, Lucille's BBQ and JC Penny.

She said the success of the event made her feel like all her hard work had paid off. "It made up for all of the sleepless nights."

The race involves rolling beds 100-yards down and 100-yards back up a street by the stage area of Tempe Marketplace. Individuals, groups, businesses, organizations, and clubs can sponsor and race the beds. Teams consist of four race-bed pushers and one in-bed rider, in costume, all racing against the clock, Wander said.

Teams are provided with the racing beds, twin beds on wheels surrounded by metal frames. The beds were a collaboration between a warehouse assistant at Bridging AZ and a local welding school, Wander said.

Teams are encouraged to dress creatively and awards will be given away to the team with the most creative team costume or theme, Wander said. "It's probably the most fun part," she said.

Prizes will also be awarded to the fastest team, (almost) first place and people's choice and most money raised, Wander added. Each member of a team has a pledge goal of $100 to raise for Bridging AZ.

"Some kids sleep on the floor or have bed bugs," Wander said. "Bed donations are important. It can change someone's life."

Piscopo said Bridging AZ is still looking for last-minute signups for the Bedrace, and hopes ASU students will get involved. "This is a great way to do something that makes a difference."


2012 AZ Bedrace, Tempe Marketplace, 2000 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, 480.966.9338, Saturday, February 25, 11 a.m.

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