The annual event has a new look this year because of pandemic restrictions

CANANDAIGUA — Family Promise of Ontario County is hosting a virtual bed race through Aug. 1 to raise funds to support homeless families in Ontario County.

One of the increasing concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic is that the slowdown of the economy and increasing unemployment will have a major impact on the availability of affordable housing for economically challenged families in the county, said Brenda Spratt, FPOC executive director.

“This situation has been a problem for families in our communities countywide long before this,” Spratt said.

In fact, Family Promise of Ontario County was established four years ago by a group of citizens committed to helping families without shelter through an organized network of faith communities who provide shelter, food, and support services to children and families without a home.

Its major community fundraising event has been an annual bed race on the Canandaigua City Pier in which groups solicit sponsorships to design, build and race crazy beds to raise funds for Family Promise. This year, because of the restrictions of COVID-19 on public gatherings, the event has been reconfigured to a seven-day online event with plenty of prizes and lots of fun.

It starts Saturday, and winners will be announced each night at 5 p.m. through Aug. 1, when the grand prize champion is announced.

Participants can choose a name for their entry and include a picture of their team or even a funny bed. Some of the fun names this year are: DeRaddo "Designs," Toughie Stuffies, The Queen Bees and Covid Couch Potatoes turned Champions!

Teams that raise the most in a single day will win a medal and gift cards to area businesses. Teams that raise a match for a challenge grant win trophies and gift cards. The grand prize winner receives a large trophy and bragging rights.

“The past years’ bed races have had a special aura of sunshine, water, and lots of people there to support the race teams and the organization,” Spratt said. “This year’s event has its own ambience, but the reality of children and families without a place to call home is just as real and perhaps even greater.”

FPOC can provide support for up to four families at a time or 14 people. Until last March, the families spent a week at a time housed by one of 18 faith communities throughout Ontario County and received food and hospitality from volunteers. FPOC also has a day center in Canandaigua where Spratt assists the adults with job applications while their children are in school.

“We had to do a quick pivot in March and fortunately have identified three apartments for our families while they look for work and their own home,” she said. “We have been fortunate that many generous Ontario County residents have helped furnish these apartments. We have one family in and are still getting two of the units ready.“