DANVILLE — Organizers are gearing up for the 48th annual Turtle Reunion and Races today.
The event, which raises thousands of dollars to help children with developmental disabilities, will be held from noon to 8 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus, 310 Bryan Ave., Danville.
"Last year was one of the best crowds we've had in a long time," said Mike Puhr, president of the Turtle Club that puts on the event. "We're hoping for another good crowd this year. It's going to be a beautiful sunny afternoon."
The event — which was started in 1964 by Joe "Grandpa Turtle" Freeman and Nadine "Mother Turtle" Schramm — will include turtle races, food and beverages, a 50-50 drawing and entertainment by Hoosier Daddy from 4 to 6 p.m.
The races will go on rain or shine. They involve placing turtles in the center of a 10-foot circle. The first turtle to make it to the outside of the circle wins.
"It's a great and unique event, and we just encourage everyone to come out, have a drink and a sandwich and watch the turtle races," Puhr said, adding organizers are encouraging participation and help in the ring from children.
Puhr said this year, 104 businesses and individuals are sponsoring turtles with a $35 donation, and tickets for the 50-50 raffle usually raise an additional $3,000 for the club.
All of the profits will be donated to groups that serve children with handicaps in East Central Illinois and western Indiana. The groups include the Eastern Illinois Shrine, Western Indiana Shrine, AMBUCS Challenger League Baseball and Summer Camp, the Danville school district's special education programs, the Westville school district's special education programs, Danville Area Community College scholarships, the Knights of Columbus, the Grotto Humanitarian Fund, Schultz House and the Masonic Learning Center.
The Turtle Club has donated more than $370,000 to the community during the past 47 years. Last year, it was able to donate $10,000.