Mash Dash helps raise funds for Wounded Warriors

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD  -- Jackie Dorland, left, and Tamra Dardenne use cups to fill water bottles as part of the Mash Dash scavenger hunt to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project on Saturday, June 22 around downtown Baton Rouge.
Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- Jackie Dorland, left, and Tamra Dardenne use cups to fill water bottles as part of the Mash Dash scavenger hunt to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project on Saturday, June 22 around downtown Baton Rouge.

Ready ... Set ... Rain!

Despite a thunderstorm arriving simultaneously with the race’s planned start time, dozens of participants showed up to compete in Baton Rouge’s inaugural Mash Dash on Saturday afternoon to support the Wounded Warrior Project.

The race, which was put on by The Amazing Raise, a Baton Rouge company that sets up fundraising challenge courses, featured 11 challenges scattered across downtown, ranging from water bottle-filling in fountains to a quiz at the Louisiana War Memorial.

Teams of two, dripping wet within minutes, dashed from checkpoint to checkpoint, completing various tasks at places such as Happy’s Irish Pub, Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar and Restaurant and Schlittz and Giggles.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Nick Baldwin, who donned an American flag bandana as a member of the G.I. Bros duo.

Baldwin’s mother, Nancy, organized the race along with Kendall Bankston, both single mothers who founded The Amazing Raise as a company that would help other people set up fundraisers.

While proceeds from previous races have gone to various charities, Bankston said, the Mash Dash, in which 75 percent of donations go directly to the Wounded Warrior Project, will happen annually in the future.

“They deal mostly with (post-traumatic stress disorder),” Bankston said of the Wounded Warrior Project. “That’s a really worthy cause, and it’s going to be pretty necessary (to treat) for a long time,” she said.

Mari Presedo, a member of Blue Star Moms, a group of mothers who have family members in the military, said her son, an army sergeant, suffers from PTSD and was among the last units to return from Iraq.

Presedo was among about a half-dozen Blue Star Moms at Saturday’s race who volunteered by collecting care packages to send to soldiers overseas, she said.

“We just have so many soldiers that come back (and need treatment),” Presedo said.

Michael Pontif and Chad Bacas, a former member of the National Guard, made up a racing pair with multiple family members who served overseas recently.

“It’s a good cause,” Pontif said of the event, adding that his brother served in Iraq and Afghanistan, but thankfully returned home safely.