Commentary

The Rai$ing Race Finale Celebration

Kelly McCorkle (The Amazing Race 7) created, planned, and ran the Rai$ing Race - a fundraising event in South Carolina to benefit the Leslie Mazzara Fund. Named in honor of Kelly's best friend, who was murdered shortly before Kelly appeared in TAR7, the Fund has a goal of building a cottage at the Calvary Home for Children - a long-term residential care facility that will provide a home for abused, neglected, and orphaned children. TARfly Muggle attended the Rai$ing Race and has filed this report and photos.

The Rai$ing Race Finale Celebration
Anderson, SC
August 13, 2005


My husband and I arrived at the Anderson Civic center around 3 p.m. on Saturday, only a short drive from our home in Easley. It was very hot, it was very muggy, and it kept teasing us with little sprinkles of rain. A typical SC day in August.

When we arrived, there were only about 20 or so people milling around outside of the Civic Center. We were not allowed inside the building until they officially opened the doors at 5:30. We just camped out on the sidewalk in the shade. About 3:30 or so the local camera crews and photographers started to get excited, so we knew something was up. Kelly, who I think had a cell phone surgically adhered to her ear for the weekend, started heading out into the field with a couple of other folks. About halfway down the field she turned and waved for all of us to follow her.
In the middle of the field the “Amazing Mats” were being laid out and we were instructed to form two lines on either side (just like in the TAR finales).
In the middle of the field the “Amazing Mats” were being laid out and we were instructed to form two lines on either side (just like in the TAR finales). This is when everyone started going nuts and losing all sense of intelligence! Every couple of minutes someone would have to shout out reminding everyone to stay in straight lines. My husband and I spotted a white SUV parked on the side of the field and assumed that it was the first place team, just waiting around for everything to be setup for the cameras and what not. Soon after, two other vehicles parked beside it.

I remember making a comment to my husband along the lines of “Yeah, this is definitely TV... hurry up and wait,”

The crowd got all excited when the three cars pulled up into the field side by side. One of them gunned it and passed the other two, making everyone laugh. Next thing we know the “Amazing Celebrities” start piling out of the cars and lining up at the “Amazing Mat” Now the show was really on. Several more reminders were shouted out not to flock the TAR Racers and to keep the two lines straight.

A few short minutes later, we see the first place team running down the sidewalk next to the parking lot (followed by a very worn out looking camera guy) they turned up into the field and the crowd goes nuts! Even my husband was clapping (which surprised the hell out of me!).

The team makes it to the mat; the camera guy plops down on the grass, exhausted. Uchenna and Joyce give Larry Elrod and Aaron Kincaid the good news. They have won the race! They have also won a vacation and $500 spending money. Minutes later, Team Jesus arrives – in their matching bright orange shirts. Rob gives them the grave news, “Just like Amber and I, you came in second place.” Over the next 45 minutes to an hour the remaining teams come filtering in, each getting a reception worthy of champions. Each of the “Amazing Celebrities” greeted the teams as they reached the mat, advising them of which place they came in and congratulating them on a race well run. All of this was captured by The Rai$ing Race team cameras, the local CBS station cameras, the local radio station cameras, the fans cameras, and local print reporters.

In between the racers finishes, the crowd was able to mingle a bit with the “Amazing Celebrities,” get autographs, and take pictures. I first spoke to Ryan and asked him if I could take his picture. He hollered for “Fat Boy” to come over and they let me take a great picture. I mentioned that I was going to submit these to TARflies and he got all excited talking about TARCon and how great it was. I admit that I unfortunately missed out on it, but would love to go to the next one.

I then asked Uchenna if he minded if I took a picture of him. He pulled Joyce out of a conversation with another fan and posed with Jonathan and Victoria. Uchenna is a great guy. He was very cordial and I noticed that anytime someone asked for a picture or autograph he was very pleased to provide it. He was great with everyone, asking each person his or her name, and addressing them as such. I can envision him making the rounds with Joyce as a motivational speaker!
This may be somewhat surprising to some of you, but I had a short conversation with Jonathan and walked away without even a scratch or a black eye!
This may be somewhat surprising to some of you, but I had a short conversation with Jonathan and walked away without even a scratch or a black eye! This is really not the same guy that we saw on TAR6. He was very pleasant and I didn’t want to take up too much of his time, but he was happy to pose with just him and Victoria for me. I can tell he has an intense personality, but he was very friendly and not at all what I was expecting.

Kelly was super-excited that her vision had finally come together. I’d imagine that she was super-exhausted as well. She was happy to pose for a goofy picture for me and thrilled that I was going to be submitting my pictures to TARflies.

I grabbed a picture of Meredith and Gretchen while they were posing with another fan. They seemed to be most popular among the picture takers. They really are a neat couple! I was able to snap some other candid shots before the final racers hit the finish line. Another round of shouting for everyone to make two straight lines and to not crowd the “Amazing Celebrities.”

I did not get an opportunity to take pictures of the other TAR Racers, because it was complete chaos. I have this thing about not being rude and interrupting people when they are having a conversation or getting their picture taken. I don’t think I am going to quit my job and become a paparazzi any time soon!

At this point I was ready for some air conditioning and somewhere to sit down. I was sunburned and exhausted. There was this snotty little girl (about 10-12 years old) who had been assigned to keep “non-racers” out of the Civic Center until 5:30. She would not let anyone even into the air-conditioned atrium. It was about all I could do to not pass out in the doorway, where occasionally the cool air would blow my way.

When we were finally allowed into the building it turns out that there were not near enough places to sit for all of the people who showed up. After waiting about 30 minutes in line for a drink, we sat down on a bench near the dance floor. One of the event organizers told us we needed to move because (and I quote) “the ‘Amazing Celebrities’ are going to be sitting here and we need to keep it clear for them. They don’t want to be harassed by fans.”

Ummmm..K.

I saw Ray and Deanna running around and setting up the stage. There were signs all over the place about absolutely no cameras or recording devices inside the building, otherwise I would have saved some space on my camera to take more pictures. I don’t think anyone else paid attention to the signs because I saw flashes going off all over the place.

At this point we were ready to go because I was insanely hot and was starting to feel ill. (As it turns out I ended up with heat exhaustion and spent the next day in bed.)

The lessons learned for next year? Bring an umbrella for shade, bring lots of water because they did not have any available, and wear sun block. Hopefully the organizers will keep in mind how popular this was and rent a bigger venue that can seat everyone!

All in all it was a great time. It is for a great cause. And it was in memory of a great person.

~Muggle~
(Jenn Black)