Watch out Ellis County Sheriff's Department troopers. Michele Springer has not forgotten what happened last year at Centennial Lanes bowling alley as part of First Call For Help’s annual fundraiser, The Amazing Race.

The troopers, a competing team that took first place for quickest time last year, tied together the shoelaces of Springer’s husband, Chris Springer.

“They’re sneaky, the sneaky troopers,” Springer laughed. “The troopers are the team to beat, for their tomfoolery.”

This is Springer’s second year in The Amazing Race, a fundraiser for First Call For Help to raise money for Ellis County families that need help paying rent or water and electric bills.

It’s for a good cause, Springer says, but that’s not the only reason she and her husband participate as part of the Crazy Kiwanis Springer Style team.

“I’m kind of excited, it’s an opportunity to go to different places in town that I haven’t been to before,” she said. “I wish more people would do it, because I think they would enjoy doing it too.”

The race is March 2, but the deadline to register is Friday. Registration is $300 for a four-person team.

Now in its fourth year, the 2018 race raised $3,000, said Laura Shoaff, First Call project coordinator for the race. The 2018 money helped pay rent for 61 families with 129 family members, and utilities for 36 families with 117 family members.

“The race benefits people in Ellis County in threat of being evicted from their homes or in threat of getting their utilities shut off,” Shoaff said.

The day of the race, The Amazing Race teams get clues that lead them to an Ellis County business, where they complete a challenge, then get another clue that leads them to the next business. About 14 businesses participate each year, Shoaff said. Awards are given for Quickest Time, Best Costume or Uniform, and Ultimate Fundraiser for raising the most money.

Kiwanis Club of Hays each year donates $1,500, $600 of which funds two Kiwanis teams, and the remainder to help fund two other teams, which included football players for Fort Hays State University in 2018.

“We like to give money back in the community, especially when we know it’s staying local,” said Springer, who is incoming president of the Kiwanis Club of Hays. “Kiwanis is a service organization that focuses on children and children organizations,” including CASA of the High Plains Inc., Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.”

First Call for Help, 607 E. 13th, provides centralized emergency services in Ellis County. It’s supported by contributions and grants, including from United Way of Ellis County, City of Hays, and Ellis County Ministerial Alliance, as well as community businesses, organizations and individuals.

Last year there were seven teams in the race and about 15 volunteers. So far this year, only three teams have signed up, Shoaff said.

“It’s a new event and there are still a lot of people who don’t know about it,” she said. “But I would love to have 10 teams. It’s been a great event and a lot of fun for the people involved.”

One year the teams followed clues to Daylight Donuts, 113 E. Eighth, where they used cardboard and markers to make signs and try to panhandle .69 cents to buy a donut.

“We’re trying to get them to understand how difficult it is to come up with 69 cents,” Shoaff said. “That isn’t very much money, but if you don’t have it, it is.”

One year Augustine’s Bakery, 1305 Main St., had the competitors decorate cookies with the revered colors of Kansas college football icons, Jayhawks and Wildcats. The cookies were donated to The Gamer’s Guild, 200 E. Eighth St., which offers a safe space for anyone to hang out. Another year the competitors made sack lunches that were donated to The Gamer’s Guild.

“Sometimes the race does a lot of community service,” Shoaff said, such as doing needed painting at First Call, or delivering flower arrangements to nursing homes. “It’s been a great event and a lot of fun for the people involved.”

For more information, or to register, go to http://firstcallelliscounty.com/AmazingRace or call (785) 623-2800.

This story has been updated to correct the winner of the 2018 race. The race was won by a team from the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office, “Troopers need heroes too,” comprised of detectives Brian Shannon and Brad Ricke, and deputy Davis Whisman and jailer Braden Parke. The Hays Daily News apologizes for the error.