Scavenger hunt unites community, raises funding for kids

Originally published in The Vacaville Reporter on October 17, 2016 By Kimberly K. Fu
Kimberly K. Fu — The Reporter Rickey Bond, right, swims with rubber duckies as teammate Rachel Barngraff looks on during a scavenger hunt fundraiser in Vacaville.
Dozens of community members swam with rubber duckies, deciphered GPS coordinates, hugged police officers and generally ran ragged throughout Vacaville Saturday while racing to support youths via the Great Scavenger Hunt of 2016.
It was an amazing success, enthused Christina Baird, the author, businesswoman and community services commissioner behind the event. She was also recently named one of Congressman John Garamendi’s Women of the Year for 2016.
Kimberly K. Fu — The Reporter Nonnie, aka Lynn Gallagher, right, and her grandkids, from left: Lyndsey O’Dwyer, Olivia Loomis and Jacob Loomis.
“I was really happy to put so many smiles on people’s faces and everybody had fun,” Baird said at a party celebrating the fundraiser’s finish. “And the team I worked with to put this together really rocked!”
Baird, who turned 44 on Sunday, wanted to do something special for her birthday. So, as she did last year, she chose a nonprofit to honor — the Vacaville Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club — and roused a crew of volunteers to put on an epic fundraiser.
Saturday’s scavenger hunt — a pastime she’s always enjoyed — had close to 60 participants journeying to 12 spots across the city for clues. Local businesses sponsored each spot and provided the clues and players grabbed them and took selfies as proof.
Olivia Loomis, 7, was her team’s adorable mascot.
Her grandma, Nonnie, aka Lynn Gallagher, was the team matriarch.
“And I’m aka Lucky Loomis,” Olivia advised.
Nonnie smiled.
“They are all my grandchildren, just different ages,” she said, indicating Olivia, Jacob Loomis and a yawning Lyndsey O’Dwyer. Their winning strategy — none.
City Treasurer Jay Yerkes, however, had a good one.
“As a lifelong Vacaville resident, I sure hope a lot of my trivia knowledge will help,” he said.
As City Councilman Curtis Hunt read the rules of the game and wished everyone a safe but fun adventure, teams scanned their clues and headed out from Town Square.
They hit everywhere from the Vacaville Museum to Great Wonders Playground to Pena Adobe. They tracked down the 9/11 memorial at the police station and important tchotchkes at Tails of the City Dog Salon. Harder were spots like Pure Grain Bakery, a clue found only by translating German, and the covered bridge out by the old Steelhead Stadium, indicated by GPS coordinates.
Rickey Bond literally took a dip at In-Shape on Elmira Road, where he scooped a rubber duck out of the water as teammate Rachel Barngraff cheered him on.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said, toweling off. “I want to take another swim.”
Nonnie and her team were not far behind, chanting “We don’t have to get in the water” as Olivia captured a duck.
“I learned something,” Nonnie said, of the event.
Traversing an alleyway downtown, the team came upon a mural featuring soldiers in battle.
“That just blew me away,” she said. “We’re a military family. We never would have known about it (if not for the hunt).”
Back at Boys & Girls Club headquarters on Holly Lane, volunteer Josefina Arteaga served up tacos to hungry participants while volunteer Susan Schwartz manned social media, uploading photos as players sent them in.
Laughter abounded as players shared their travails and their successes.
Baird thanked everyone for playing and for helping her continue her tradition of birthday community service.
With everyone’s help, she raised close to $3,000 for the club, up $2,000 from last year’s event.
First place went to Shane Wehunt and his team. They scored a year’s membership to In-Shape’s Elmira branch and four season passes to Six Flags.
Second place went to Jay Yerkes and his crew. They won dinner at Texas Roadhouse and tickets to Brenden Theatres.
Third place went to the Military Wives of Travis Air Force Base. They took home $50 in Foster’s Freeze bucks.
Baird said it’s possible the scavenger hunt may be repeated — with tweaks — next year.
Kimberly Fu
Veteran newshound with @vacareporter, traded crime & adrenaline for the municipalities of Vacaville & Dixon. Kept the black coffee and occasional cigar.