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Turtles leading race for charity

The Baltimore Sun

They're diminutive, grinning rubber turtles, clad in sweaters and sunglasses - stylish and available for adoption.

And on April 28, a host of them will be racing 25 yards through McDaniel College's Harlow Pool at a fundraiser benefiting Carroll County's Meals on Wheels program.

Event organizers expect at least 2,000 contestants floating turtleneck to turtleneck toward the finish. The turtle adoptions, at $5 each, are expected to raise more than $10,000 that will go toward providing meals to homebound residents.

"By underwriting the cost of our operation, we can ensure that anyone ... who needs food ... [will] not go hungry regardless of their ability to pay," said Tom Grazio, executive director of Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland.

Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland, which serves Baltimore City and the five surrounding counties, provided more than 46,000 meals in the last fiscal year to about 250 Carroll residents.

The organization charges its clients a maximum of $5 per meal, but a majority of people pay less, Grazio said.

The fundraiser - the 2007 Turbo Turtle Splash - is being organized by Deborah Goff, a McDaniel student majoring in social work who has interned with Meals on Wheels during her senior year.

"Many people might consider social work a one-on-one thing," said Goff, 42, of Westminster. "In reality, social workers work with families, individuals and communities. I like to work with communities."

Goff and other organizers have enlisted help from within and outside of Carroll County. Dozens of businesses will support the event with money, services and prizes. Many volunteers will assist, and several area celebrities will preside poolside over the race.

"Meals on Wheels does great work in the community and serves a lot of needs," said Dwight Dingle, station manager of radio station WTTR-AM.

Dingle will provide commentary as the turtles make their way to the deep end of the pool.

"I've done a lot of sports. I've done play-by-play. But I've never done a turtle race before," he said.

The turtles will be propelled through the pool by fans and underwater pumps. The person who adopted the winning turtle will receive a $500 cash prize and will qualify with the 19 other top finishers for a chance to win a $10,000 drawing.

The 2007 Turbo Turtle Splash begins at 3 p.m. April 28 in Harlow Pool, McDaniel College, Westminster. Information: 410-596-7874 or www.turtlesplash.com.

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