Creating a signature event in your community takes time, patience and creativity. Thankfully, our leaders have all of those qualities, including the who just held their 8th Annual Mouse Races. Yes, you read that correctly: mouse races!
Diane Southard, the group’s leader, took some time to help us understand just how the Mouse Races came about. “Rich and Dawn Erker [of the Fragile X Resource Group] attended the NFXF Leadership Conference in St. Louis is 2005 and left empowered, wanting to do something. “The Erkers had been to a Mouse Race before and thought it would be a great event for their group.” They held their first race in January 2006, and it has since turned into a yearly fun-filled tradition for the entire community.
The most common thing heard about these events is what fun they are— filled with good people and good food. Diane says everyone likes to hear the “Welcome talk” that shares how the group uses their funds to fulfill both their group’s mission and the National Fragile X Foundation’s. “The key is to say what you know as truth and believe in—the passion is then visible!” The Fragile X Resource Center is also famed for their auction and raffle baskets which hold extra surprises. The winners can’t wait to open them!
Every event takes a team, and Diane is proud and happy to give credit to others for this year’s event. Debbie Meis and Danielle Barford were chairs for the Mouse Races. They both are sisters to Diane and while neither has a child with Fragile X, their entire extended family is vested in
Fragile X awareness and support. They are carriers of the gene mutation, love their nephew and their whole family is impacted by Fragile X-associated Disorders (FXS, FXPOI and FXTAS). Diane calls her sisters,and others like them, the reason for the success of their LINKS group, stating “It’s people like them and not just the parents, but aunts, uncles and grandparents too.”
Diane was also eager to thank Rich Erker and Mark Oates who ran the Mouse Races. In fact, they’ve turned this event into a side business called “Trip Crown Fundraising.” Now they hold Mouse Races all over St. Louis! Teamwork is the key to success in all of the group’s activities.
Every year, the Mouse Races include a “Heads and Tails” game with special prizes. This year’s game was extra special because all three winners were grandmothers of kids in the group. That made for some very special moments!