Costumes, Shopping Carts, and Charity, oh my!


Mush! The famous and historical Iditarod dog sled race, the “Last Great Race on Earth”, kicks off March 1, 2014. Highly trained teams of humans and dogs will race across the frozen landscapes of Alaska. A similarly treacherous and challenging race is also happening March 1 in Chicago. Well, sort of.


The Chicago Urban Shopping Cart Race, a.k.a CHIditarod, is a charitable race well known for its quirky, fun attitude. Instead of a dog sled team, a group of five humans lead a decorated shopping cart filled with 60 lbs of canned goods across two Chicago neighborhoods — in costume (the more elaborate, the better).


“It’s a food drive, a race for charity, a beauty pageant, a bar crawl, spontaneous street theater, and not for the faint at heart. It’s fast, furious, cold, exciting, fun, and very creative,” as described on the CHIditarod website.


This may seem silly (or the most fun ever), but the Chicago nonprofit has raised over $73,000 and donated over 85,000 pounds of canned goods since its first race in 2006.


CHIditarod is a wonderful example of how nonprofits can make philanthropy fun and interesting by creating  a stand-out and unique event experience. It is unfortunately too late to register for the 2014 race, but keep it on your calendars for 2015. If you’re not in the Chicago area, organize your own Iditarod-inspired event!  Follow the advice of CHIditarod and “Dress up. Cause Chaos. DO GOOD.”


Check out and CHIditarod’s website for inspiration, a good laugh, or to make a donation. Also see  Chiditarod: America’s Coolest Food Drive / Shopping Cart Race.