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Charities benefit from 10 years of Amazing Races

Chuck Gibson, loveland@communitypress.com12:32 p.m. EDT September 28, 2015

(Photo: Chuck Gibson for The Community Press)

The Amazing Charity Race awarded $60,000 to charities during a 10-year celebration and check presentation at The Works restaurant in Loveland.


In 10 years of zany fun-races around and through Loveland, Milford and Miami Township, the Amazing Charity Race, which began as Loveland’s Amazing Race in 2006, has raised and donated nearly $750,000 to benefit selected charities. Each year founder Doug Portmann and the race committee select specific charities to benefit from the largest portion of proceeds. After 10 years, 16 different organizations have received more than $10,000 each to help make a difference in the lives of others.


In Return was founded in 2005 to provide viable employment for individuals who have suffered a significant brain injury, neurological disease or disorder. It is an example of the type of life - changing charities chosen to benefit from the Amazing Charity Race. The older brother of CEO and board chairman Rob Groeschen was critically injured in an auto accident between his freshman and sophomore year in college. Tom Groeschen is just one of the many people benefiting from the work and life skills programs at In Return.


“It gives people an opportunity to better their lives,” Groeschen said. “It gives them an opportunity to better their life skills and also their work skills to develop their world.”


Meeting their mission to promote independent living and personal success through job and life skills training, In Return employs more than 50 associates in their program at facilities in Blue Ash. Whether it was a traumatic accident, disease, or other disorder, each associate has a story which will tug at your heartstrings, but then warm your heart as you meet them on the job at In Return. They develop job skills making boxes, sorting recyclable auto parts, assembling, filling absorbent pads, or creating greeting cards.


Nancy (no last name given) created her own greeting cards before a massive stroke impacted her in 2003. She said it feels like progress came in baby steps as she relearned how to walk, climb stairs, how to drive again, and even how to make greeting cards again. She makes all the seasonal and specialty greeting cards In Return sells. Her glowing smile brightens the day for all who meet her.


Brad (no last name given) is a vibrant productive associate and quick to kid with you. After being hit in the head by a softball at a family gathering one day before the start of his freshman year at St. Xavier High School, brain swelling required surgery and left him in a coma for more than two months. His family was told he would likely never speak or understand language and would be paralyzed on his left side. At In Return, he earns a paycheck and continues to build his job and life skills. This is the kind of difference In Return is making with the more than $37,000 they’ve received from the Amazing Charity Race.


“No one has donated more to us than the Amazing Charity Race,” Groeschen said. “It is tremendous. We’re very thankful. The impact they make on us is tremendous.”


The Karen Carns Foundation received a check for $7,500 for their participation and selection as chosen charity for the 2015 Amazing Charity Race. In three separate years, the foundation has been awarded a total of $39,500 from the race committee.


Karen Carns died in August, 2001, but in her life she built a legacy of helping children. The Karen Carns Foundation continues her dreams and works by primarily assuring no child will be removed from their environment of a private elementary or high school education due to a life - changing event affecting the family’s financial situation. Secondarily, Carns Coats for Kids provides winter coats for kids less fortunate.


Tom Carns knows first-hand the impact on a child when a life - changing event occurs in their family; such as the loss of a parent. Karen’s death left Tom with their four school-age children. As soon as The Karen Carns Foundation becomes aware of a family/child in need, he is personally involved.


“I meet with every family,” Carns said. “I have to. Usually I get a grieving person, so I tell my story and there’s common ground right away.”


First a life - changing event occurs, usually a death, Carns establishes the family has a need, then they provide the tuition to keep the children in the private school they’re already attending. Losing the familiarity and friends of the school environment can be devastating. In one case a father died suddenly in a work accident, mother was lost in grief and a daughter was about to drop out of classes at McNicholas High School.


“We ended up finding out about it,” Carns said. “We had to go through the guidance counselor to get to the girl and tell her ‘you’re going to stay in school.’


Fast forward to about a year later at one of our dinner events. Halfway through she comes up opens my suit coat and puts a letter in there.”


The letter explained she had been suicidal - just two days away from killing herself - when she found out they were going to help her. In the letter, she told Carns she would make him proud of her. Carns said she graduated from McNick and ended up finishing second in her class at Ohio University.


“All our kids end up being compassionate and really strong,” he said. “What we’ve received from the Amazing Race we’ve parlayed into taking care of 13 families. Every one has been where we were the last resort to keep them in school.”


Race beneficiaries


All of the charities benefiting from the Amazing Charity Race make a difference for somebody somewhere - usually close to home.


In Return ( and The Karen Carns Foundation ( are two great examples of the many who have already made a difference with the donations they’ve received in the first 10 years of the Amazing Charity Race. Here’s a list of the others:


Loveland Inter-Faith Effort Food Pantry: $13,000 - The LIFE Food Pantry is a faith-based organization that provides food, financial assistance, and services to needy residents within the Loveland School District and to members of our supporting congregations, who qualify under Federal guidelines for persons in need encouraging self - sufficiency in individuals and families.


NKOA: $13,000 - Helping an average of 10,000 children in the Tristate each year since 1952. The NKOA provides thousands of basic necessities for local area children - hats, coats, shoes, clothing, eyeglasses and educational opportunities for children - field trips, camp experiences and training programs.


Saint Vincent DePaul Society of St. Columban in Loveland: $5,000 - The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is an international organization that helps the poor and suffering. Its purpose is to provide direct aid to those who suffer, and to help individuals reduce and even eliminate the causes of their suffering themselves. St. Columban works with St. Vincent de Paul to aid those in need, offering essential items through clothing drives and other events throughout the year. St. Vincent de Paul conference maintains a pantry of non - perishable food, toiletries and household cleaning supplies. Monetary donations are also welcome. - vincent - de - paul


Our Daily Bread: $14,000 - Serving up Hope in Cincinnati since 1985, Our Daily Bread is an Over - the - Rhine (Cincinnati, Ohio) 501(c)(3) ministry of hospitality dedicated to serving the needs of neighborhood residents and those who frequent the area. The ministry strives to provide stability and hope to our guests and the neighborhood community, by offering not just a warm meal, but also providing social services and a place for guests to socialize in a safe, respectful, caring


Loveland Initiative: $9,000 - The Loveland Initiative was founded in 1996 by a group of neighbors with the mission to provide educational support and assistance to underserved children and their families. The organization focuses its attention through a wide variety of programs to help lower income residents meet basic needs along with educational enrichment.


CancerFree Kids: $19,000 - With headquarters in Loveland, the mission of CancerFree KIDS is to eradicate cancer as a life - threatening disease in children by funding promising research that might otherwise go unfunded.


Impact A Hero: $9,000 - Impact A Hero provides immediate and ongoing emotional and financial support for severely wounded post-9/11 combat veterans and their families.


DET 3 Foundation: $10,000 - DET3 FOUNDATION was formed in honor of the men who were part of the DET3, 3rd Radio Research Unit. These men were able, courageous and selfless in serving the nation. 100 percent of your donations goes to support the troops.


Ohio Valley Voices: $10,000 - Ohio Valley Voices is an early intervention program that teaches children with hearing loss to listen and talk through the use of hearing aids and cochlear implants.


Multiple Sclerosis Society: $10,000 - The Society offers many services and resources to help people affected by MS live their best lives. www.nationalmssociety/chapters/ohg.


Childrens Home of Cincinnati: $12,000 - The mission of TCH is to transform the lives of vulnerable children through individualized treatment and education services that build the skills and confidence to succeed in life.


Boy Scouts of America - Dan Beard Council: $10,000 - The Dan Beard Council of BSofa serves the local scouting organizations. For over a century, the BSA has helped build the future leaders of this country by combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun. The Boy Scouts of America believes - and, through over a century of experience, knows - that helping youth is a key to building a more conscientious, responsible, and productive society.


Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research: $12,000 - On July 22, 2014, Chris Spielman met with Spielman Fund grant recipients to learn about their research and how it is helping advance the fight against breast cancer, the disease that his late wife, Stefanie, the fund’s namesake, battled for many years before passing away in 2009.


Loveland Primary Playground Project: $10,000 - A group of Loveland Primary School teachers who volunteered in an effort to raise funds for a new safe and recreational playground to serve the students at Loveland Primary School.

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