Some ideas are born of necessity, others of boredom, but truly great ideas, the kind that change the world, are surely a result of creative minds creating chaos for the sake of pleasure.
Over the past ten years, the CHIditarod Foundation has raised more than $100,000 in donations and more than 100,000 pounds of food for The Greater Chicago Food Depository. And that wasn’t even the original goal, albeit a pretty damn good result.
In the beginning, Devin Breen, CHIditarod founder, wanted to duplicate a shopping cart race version of the Iditarod race that originated in San Francisco (Urban Iditarod), but he was wary of the notoriously tough Chicago cops cracking down. After all, he was organizing an event in which intoxicated citizens would race down the streets of Chicago in shopping carts, stopping at bars along the way, and sabotaging each other by any reasonable means necessary.
Public Relations mastermind Tom LaPorte suggested that an element of charity would be a good fail-safe device against law enforcement. Thus, we have the inception of “probably the world’s largest mobile food drive.”
Since 2006, the CHIditarod race has grown in both scope and absurdity. It is a 100% volunteer-driven event in which costumed teams of five people race from bar to bar with sixty-five pounds of food in a shopping cart (the food is donated after the race). Four of the team members pull the shopping cart (The Dawgs) while the fifth team member (The Musher) pushes. Once a team reaches a checkpoint (a bar) they engage in ridiculous games such as giant Jenga or epic rock-paper-scissors.
Clearly, this is no ordinary charity event.
CHIditarod draws more than 1,000 eccentric individuals each year, and the outcome is an “Urban shopping cart race, charity food drive, costumed beauty pageant, talent show, fundraiser and chaos generator all in one.”
This Saturday, March 7th, I will be volunteering at The Cobra Lounge checkpoint. Stay tuned to see what kind of belligerent awesomeness occurs in the wake of the most ingenious fundraiser on the planet.
(Photos courtesy of the CHIditarod’s Facebook page)