Bed Race Derby teams to race for a good night's sleep for kids

Bed Race Derby teams to race for a good night's sleep for kids
Carroll County Public School employees and their family members gathered in Westminster April 17 to begin painting their Star Wars-themed entry in the Tree of Friends' Foundation's inaugural Bed Race Derby, to be held at 11 a.m. on April 30 at the Agriculture Center's Shipley Arena in Westminster. From left are Tammy Haller, Donald Mongold, Kevin Muniz, Kim Muniz, Vonnie Fiore and Deb Kachik, all of Westminster. (Photo courtesy Frank Fiore / Photo courtesy Frank Fiore)

"Go to bed; you have school tomorrow." Countless number of children probably hear these words every Sunday through Thursday night. If you have children, maybe you have even said these words yourself. But some children lack one crucial component for going to bed on school nights: a bed.

Tree of Friends Foundation, based in Manchester, will host its first Bed Derby at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 30, in the Shipley Arena at the Carroll County Agricultural Center. The derby will pit five-member racing teams and their decorated sleep surfaces against each other in sprints across the floor of the arena said Tony Christiani, a ToFF volunteer and member of the derby committee.


Teams will race across Shipley Arena in a few heats, competing for trophies such as the fastest, wackiest and "Most Likely to Break Down." With themed beds and teams in costume, the event will have its share of comedy, he said.

But the impetuts for the event is nothing to laugh about. Christiani said he suggested to ToFF that they hold a bed race derby as a way to connect a fun and unusual event with the reason the funds are being raised: to purchase new mattress and box spring sets for children transitioning out of homeless shelters and into homes.

ToFF seeks to address needs of county residents that are not fully met by other avenues of support in the county.

According to the ToFF website, 121 people transitioned from Westminster-area homeless shelters into homes last year. Of those, nearly half were children and nearly all of those children did not have a bed to sleep on.

"We really thought about what an impact a bed actually has on a child. It's the place you go to at night and it's the place that you feel safe," said Jessie Boog, event chair. "When kids don't have [a bed] they probably don't have that [feeling] and they're not getting the sleep that they need."

The challenges Carroll County children sometimes face outside of the school building are among those the school system's pupil personnel workers strive to address.

"It will surprise some people to know that there are children in Carroll County who may not be sleeping in a bed — who may be sleeping on the floor," said Vonnie Fiore, a pupil personnel worker with Carroll County Public Schools and a ToFF volunteer. "If a student doesn't have a bed to sleep in and is sleeping on the floor, that's a barrier to learning."

Fiore said CCPS employees are fielding a team made up of four student services employees and one of the team member's spouses.

Donald Mongold, another county pupil personnel worker, is on the CCPS team.

"I'm going to be Luke Skywalker. There is a Star Wars theme to our bed so everyone is going to dress up as a character from Star Wars," he said. "We're going to participate and do our best to raise money for [ToFF]. They do all they can to raise money for those in need and we want to do what we can to help."

Boog said ToFF also partnered with the North Carroll branch library to bring a library employee who is a ToFF volunteer to the derby where she will read a bedtime story for children.

Building upon the bedtime story theme, ToFF is accepting donations of new children's books at all five Carroll County Public Library branches through April 30.

"What we wanted to do was correlate [so] every time we're giving away a bed we're giving away a book, too," she said.

When Boog needed to find a place large enough to hold the derby she contacted Crystal Dell, the former chairwoman of the Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair who serves on the event committee for the Buckwild Truck and Tractor Classic, an annual weekend of truck and tractor pulls held at the ag center. Dell proposed hosting the derby to the Buckwild committee.


"I don't think we had one objection. Everybody was very excited," Dell said. "Every year at the fair, we try to do something for some [community] organization. It's for a great cause."

"It should be an absolute hoot," Dell said. "I think it's one of those things that, after people see if for one year, they'll say, 'We need to be a part of that.'"

There is no admission fee or ticket required to watch the derby but because it is being held during the first day of the Buckwild show, spectators do need to pay the Buckwild Classic admission for Saturday, which is free for children up to age 8 and $12 for age 9 and older.

If you want to visit the Buckwild show both Saturday and Sunday, you can buy a weekend pass for $20. Children 8 and younger get in free.

Dell said it is interesting to her to see the different types of trucks and tractors in the show, and to see how much weight they can pull and how far down the track they can get with it.

The truck and tractor show will offer food and drinks available for purchase. Food for the family includes burgers, hot dogs and other familiar fair food and drinks, plus a beer garden for the grown-ups.

"Some people read 'truck and tractor pull' and think that's all there is, but it's more than what you think," Dell said. "It's pretty neat and [the derby] is a big plus for both of us. The fair likes to help people and that's [ToFF's] main goal."

If you go

What: Tree of Friends Foundation Bed Race Derby

When: 11 a.m., Saturday, April 30. Gates open at 7 a.m. Bed Derby teams can register from 8 to 9 a.m. Bed inspection follows at 10 a.m. and racing will begin at 11 a.m.

Where: Carroll County Agriculture Center's Shipley Arena, 300 Agriculture Center Drive, Westminster

Cost: The derby is included in your ticket for the Buckwild Truck and Tractor Classic. Saturday-only $12 per person for ages 9 and up; children age 8 and younger get in free.

Registration: Racing team registration is $250 per five-member team. Spectator registration is not required.

For more information: To learn more or register your derby team, call 443-507-0667 or visit For more information about the Buckwild Truck and Tractor Classic, visit Buckwild runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 30, and Sunday, May 1.