Racing mice raise thousands

GENOA – The pride in Chuck Nunn’s voice was apparent when he spoke of his fleet-footed sprinters.

“Sometimes they’re over in five seconds,” said Nunn, owner of Party Downs Mouse Racing in Wright City, Mo. “Other times they all just kind of sit there and chew on the wood until one finds the finish line.”

They may not be champion thoroughbreds, but 54 mice made for exciting centers of attention for curious spectators Saturday in Genoa.

The Genoa-Kingston Education Foundation hosted its third annual Mouse Race, a fundraiser featuring mouse-themed games. The event, at the Genoa Veterans Home, 311 Washington St. in Genoa, raised money for program funding in Genoa-Kingston School District 424.

“Last year, we were able to raise over $4,400 from this event,” said Debbie Kuhn, foundation board president. “This year, we are looking to be closer to $5,500.”

Participants placed bets on games such as mouse roulette and the mouse race. Cash prizes were awarded to those who predicted the winner in each of the six races.

“I had a lot of faith in my mouse,” Bryan Evans of Genoa said. “Speed E. Gonzalez ran well, but not well enough to win.”

“This is a blast,” Genoa resident Julie Mindora said. “I never thought I would get this riled up about something like mouse racing.”

Each mouse was sponsored by a local business or donors. The sponsors of each winning racer received a bottle of wine, and the grand-prize winner received two bottles of wine and a cheesecake.

“It’s a fun and exciting way to raise money for a worthy cause,” said Lea Pennington, board secretary of the foundation. “And it’s just a great excuse for people to get out of the house for a good, clean end-of-winter activity.”

The champion of this year’s event, the Genoa-Kingston Transportation Department, won the same honor at last year’s fundraiser.

“It’s a very fun night,” said Rhonda Kuhn of the transportation department. “We are thrilled to have won two years in a row, and that is for a great cause.”