It wasn’t your average fundraiser, but it’s getting above average reviews.
The Surry Sunrise Rotary Club’s recent Flight for Kids didn’t include the dinner, band and silent auction that seem to be a part of the vast majority of fundraising efforts.
Instead, Rotary members and those who turned out in support wore shorts and T-shirts and grilled burgers at Riverside Park in Mount Airy as they awaited the arrival of 100 pigeons which had been turned loose at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Each $100 ticket sold included the rights — for lack of a better term — to a pigeon and entry to the cookout. The person who had been randomly assigned the first pigeon to arrive back at Steve Norman’s pigeon coupe walked away with a $2,000 cash prizes. A prize of $1,000 went to second place, and $500 went to third place. The fourth place finisher got his or her $100 back.
The club and its members quickly unloaded all 100 tickets, according to club president Jeff Boyles. The group was able to raise more than $6,700 for the backpack food programs of the Surry County Schools and Mount Airy City Schools.
The food programs send a backpack filled with food home for the weekend with any child who might be in need.
“It was a terrific event,” said Boyles. “We continue to hear comments from the public about how innovative it was.”
Boyles said everything surrounding the event “went off without a hitch.” Steve Norman, who owns all the pigeons which took part in the event, deserves a great deal of the credit for the pigeon race’s success.
He said Norman is one of the “many smart, hard-working and civic-minded people” who fill the ranks of the Surry Sunrise Rotary Club.
The race didn’t catch the attention of only locals, however. Last week, the Rotary club reported it had been named Rotary District 7690’s club of the month for the fundraiser.
Boyles said the district stretches from the Mount Airy area to Pinehurst.
“Rotary District Governor Jon Spillman has asked District 7690 to be fearless, think out-of-the-box, try something new, and be creative. Surry Sunrise Rotary did just that in the month of September,” reads a statement from the club.
“In response to the district’s RUSH Initiative, Rotarians Unite to Stop Hunger, Surry Sunrise Rotary created an innovative fundraiser where members launched 100 pigeons from the Charlotte Motor Speedway and sold chances on the fastest bird to return to Mount Airy.”
“We are very proud to have been named the club of the month,” said Boyles. “There are lots of good rotary clubs doing many good things in our district, so it was a real honor to stand out among those.”
Boyles said the pigeon race is likely to become an annual event.
“We are definitely planning it for next year,” explained Boyles. “There was so much interest in it, we may be looking at expanding it next year.”
For now, however, the club has some more immediate fundraising ventures. According to the press release, Rotary members will be parking vehicles at the BB&T bank parking lot for the Autumn Leaves Festival.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.