On March 7th, giant muppet heads, birthday cakes, and mobile diners will once again brave the cold to celebrate the CHIditarod’s tenth anniversary in what’s expected to be its most rambunctious year yet. Despite its humble origins as an underground, costumed invasion of Chicago’s Near West Side, CHIditarod has grown into a Chicago institution which raised more than $100,000 and 100,000 lbs of food to fight hunger in the Chicagoland area since 2006.
CHIditarod continues to have a wide impact without letting go of its grassroots ethos. In addition to giving away $25,000 to local charities in 2014, CHIditarod is a longtime partner of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. “Each year, more than 812,000 people – 1 in 6 in Cook County – turn to the Food Depository for assistance,” said Kate Maehr, executive director and CEO of the Food Depository. “The need is significant. But, since 2006, the support of the CHIditarod has been instrumental as we work towards a day when no one goes hungry.”
“I have watched CHIditarod grow from a small event to something hugely impactful. The creativity and dedication that our participants bring every year to help the hungry is truly amazing. In our tenth year, we want to thank them by putting on the biggest, most epic CHIditarod yet,” said Devin Breen, the founder of the CHIditarod and Top Dog of the CHIditarod Foundation.
“The morning after CHIditarod IX, I started planning this year’s cart,” said longtime racer Melissa R. Rutherfoord. In an event that’s fun for newbies and veteran racers alike, teams are encouraged to plan ahead and be creative. Melissa R. Rutherfoord recalls, “One year we spent weeks in the Steppenwolf scene shop turning a shopping cart into a sea monster. We waded through Chicago streets wearing old fashioned diving suits pretending our cart was attacking us. We used bubble machines to produce thousands of bubbles to complete the underwater effect. Needless to say we got a few hoots and honks.”
Gleefully referring to itself as “possibly the world’s largest mobile food drive,” the CHIditarod unites many Chicago communities including cyclists, artists, activists, students, professionals, enthusiastic leisurists, and everyone in-between. This whimsical urban shopping cart race involves teams of five which elaborately decorate their cart and themselves, usually around a theme. Each team is required to show up with their cart full of food to be donated.
About the CHIditarod Foundation
CHIditarod continues to expand its fundraising efforts to compliment the food drive that has been in operation since its first year (2006). In nine years, they have donated more than 100,000 lbs of food to local food pantries in addition to raising more than $100,000 for local non-profits. In 2012, race organizers formed the CHIditarod Foundation to award funds raised through CHIditarod’s events to local Chicago-based charities dedicated to eradicating hunger in their communities. CHIditarod is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit.