The Amazing Race
Friends come together for a raucous scavenger hunt to fundraise for the 2022 New York Encounter
Back in 2020, I along with several friends from around the state of Florida received an invitation from our friend Enrico to meet him on Zoom for an undisclosed reason. On the call, Enrico reminded us that it is a miracle we are all friends and that we all met Christ in a way that made us friends despite living in different cities. One by one, he commented on how he personally met each one of us.
I met Enrico at a dinner, when he and the men from his house were all visiting Pensacola. It was a significant moment for me during which my pride was overcome and I had to accept that although I didn’t know those people very well, nor did I understand this ‘charism’ they all talked about, I was certain that there was something there for me too in this Movement.
After Enrico recalled these stories, he shared with us his missionary desire and told us that he was experiencing urgency. He asked us to pay attention to what has happened to each of us and to think about how this can happen for others around us. He was hoping we would take initiative and make proposals that would bring people together in our communities and invite them to experience the life we had all discovered in this friendship.
Some of us were confused because we thought, “We aren’t supposed to gather in large groups. There’s a pandemic!” Others had some initial ideas that never went anywhere.
Almost a year later, Enrico called to remind me of this urgency and also of the need to fundraise for the New York Encounter. He said, “Why don’t we do some kind of online scavenger hunt to raise money?” At first, I couldn’t see how that would either bring people together or raise a significant amount of money. But, following Enrico, I said “yes.”
I called Patrick, because I knew I would need some creative genius, and he eagerly jumped on board. Before I knew it, Patrick had found the perfect app, created a list of fun and crazy tasks, and was making flyers to promote the fundraiser. The Amazing Race New York Encounter edition was underway.
We contacted people in all of the Florida communities, asking them to create a team. We then encouraged them to find a gathering place where they could meet together at the end of the race to Zoom in for the announcement of the winners. We even had two teams participate from Cincinnati!
In Florida, our CL communities are all spread out across the state, with the furthest distance dividing two communities being eleven hours. This makes it challenging for us to all be together as often as we would like, so we wanted this to be an opportunity for us to be together in a different way. Although we were not physically present together, there was a sense of unity among all who participated in the way that teams played with an awareness of each other and our desire to support an event that we all hold dear. We ended the Amazing Race with an award ceremony via Zoom that included shout-outs to our favorite players, videos highlighting the most creative and comical submissions, and a trophy presentation to the overall winning team.
While I initially thought of this event as primarily a fundraiser, it was so much more. The day of the Amazing Race was the fruit of Enrico’s urge to share what we had met with our friends, and I am certain that is exactly what happened! This truly was an event.
In Gainesville after the Amazing Race, teams SoC’ya! and The Operacity Machine came together for a backyard BBQ followed by a riveting game of Cuban Mafia. During this time, participants reflected on the day’s event, the gift that it had been, and also shared some laughs about all that had happened.
“More important than scraping together some money to support an event that we all believe in, we lived what is at the heart of the New York Encounter and our Movement; making the body of Christ present as a beacon of life in the midst of the world.” - Patrick, Tampa, Game Master
A family from the Pensacola CL Community that wasn’t able to participate in the whole event even experienced this belonging when team Pensacolian Dynamite stopped by their house to ask the children to participate in one of the tasks.
Congratulations again to team “Queen City Giuss” from Cincinnati on your victory!
To conclude, a poem written by Audrey from team Banana Pancakes in St. Petersburg that expressed the heart of the Amazing Race:
It started several months ago
With a quite mysterious calling
“Mark January 8th on your calendar, dear.”
If Enrico says, I’m following!
We put together a winning team,
Joe, Jonathan, Audge, Er, and Priya
We hopped in the minivan and sped off safely,
All other teams, we’re gonna beat ya!
Silly times, lots of giggles
While asking strangers for photos,
Sometimes they said yes, and sometimes no,
Because Fernandez is muy locos!
To fundraise for a great event,
We’re trekking all over town
In hopes that even during Covid,
The Encounter will still go down!
From proposals to thumb wars,
Bumper stickers to singing,
We hope that to Pat and Christine,
OUR victory bells are ringing!
We’ve written a poem for this, our task
But a deeper question exists,
We long for a Presence, something more
But lo, our scavenger hunt persists!
So cheers to Giussani, Medina too
And Carron for the days when he was our main boo
To Prosperi, Gainesville, Midwest and Tampa,
We yearn for a first prize, that is true!
Christine, Pensacola, FL