ETCETERA - 'Amazing Race' fan creates Walla Walla edition for friends

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Participants in The Amazing Race Walla Walla Edition, created and supervised by Danny Butler, line up from left, Jacom Leinweber, Hans Bauman, Bailee Butler, Merriam Bennet, Samantha Bristol, Stephen Butler, Jackson Leinweber, Kayla Leinweber, Katie Leinweber, Maggie Buob, Olivia Buob, Erika Leinweber, Anders Davidson and Lea Davidson.

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The Amazing Race Walla Walla Edition creator Danny Butler, above right, presents race winners Anders and Lea Davidson with their prizes, Easter baskets from Bright's Candies.

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Katie and Kayla Leinweber, center and right, U-turn other teams during The Amazing Race Walla Walla Edition on April 10.

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Emily Leinweber and Maggie Buob won the first pit stop.

'Amazing Race' fan creates WW edition for friends

Danny Butler isn't one to while away his free time playing video games, according to parents Dan and Angie Butler.

Inspired by CBS TV's "The Amazing Race" reality game show, of which the Walla Walla High School freshman is an ardent fan, he spearheaded his own such event.

In the TV version, teams of two race each other around the world. Danny planned and supervised his version, The Amazing Race Walla Walla Edition. And post-high school, he aims to get on the CBS program, which originally debuted in 2001.

For the local event, Danny charted a course then invited classmates and members of his youth group at Amazing Grace Church of the Nazarene to participate.

The teams of two contestants each were encouraged to bring their bikes, competitiveness and energy to the event, which started at the Butler home on April 10.

They sought out messages and clues en route; had to check in with Danny's mom, who then sent them on a detour. They figured out clues and hied it over to Bright's Candies on Main Street where "Gracie and papa will be there with jelly beans for the road block," according to Danny's itemized instructions.

At the jelly bean road block each contestant would be blindfolded, eat a jelly bean and attempt to correctly identify the flavor within three chances or go to the back of the line.

Once that challenge was completed, they received the next clue and the first few teams rode back to Danny's house. The remaining teams rode to Pioneer Park's pavilion to search for the next clue and then make it to Danny's house. The last three teams to finish were eliminated. The seven remaining teams participated in a road block to solve a problem.

Competitors faced more detours, 20-minute penalties and challenges such as eating a slice of Spam, according to Danny's directions, and more eliminations before they finished the race. Danny thought through all aspects of the race. Contestants could be eliminated for sabotaging other teams, skipping clues or using a cell phone. Fifteen-minute penalties were meted out for unsportsmanlike conduct, such as pushing, shoving or touching other teams or looking at the other teams' ideas.

After Danny graduates from Wa-Hi -- and makes the real Amazing Race -- he wants to become an engineer and design rides for Disneyland or Disneyworld. "I enjoy working with kids and will probably become a youth or child minister at a local church or work with Young Life," he said.

Angie added that "the kids had a ball but it was fun for me to watch other teams stop and help kids with broken chains on their bikes, and taste Spam and cheese and make funny faces, encourage one another, get a ton of exercise and just have plain old-fashioned fun.

"I was proud of Danny not only because of his time and effort put into this, but because his joy came from watching his friends have a great time."

She said Danny appreciated his friends who came out and supported him. "These teens were incredible. Great people to hang out with for an afternoon. Danny would also be the first to say he couldn't have accomplished this without his adult helpers that have invested in his life," she said

Helpers included adults Alysia and Pat Buob and Heidi Leinweber and younger siblings pitched in, including Jackson Leinweber and Grace and Stephen Butler.

"It was truly an Amazing Race," Angie said.

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The Blue Mountain Council of Boy Scouts of America selected scouting volunteer Diana Erickson, Walla Walla, to receive the Silver Beaver Award for service to scouting.

Boy Scouts of America's honor recognizes council, district or unit volunteers for distinguished service to youth. It is the highest award that a local council may present to a volunteer, according to a release from Diana's husband, Bill Erickson.

Diana received the award during a reception Saturday in Kennewick.

As a registered leader in Scouting for 10-plus years, Diana has served Cub Scout Pack 311 and Exploring Post 311, which are sponsored by College Place First Presbyterian Men's Group. As an active leader of Exploring Post 311, she has provided support to Walla Walla High School Latino Club membership through the Post.

In 2007, she served on the international staff of the 21st World Jamboree in central England and spent 17 days as an interpreter and receptionist at Jamboree headquarters. The 100th anniversary of scouting was celebrated at the event, which hosted 50,000 people from more than 160 countries. A highlight of her service there was meeting Australian Michael Baden-Powell, grandson of Scouting's founder Robert Baden Powell.

In 2010, Diana was a national staff member at the 2010 Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree's Special Catering group. This jamboree celebrated the 100th anniversary of scouting in America.

The Silver Beaver Award also recognizes noteworthy service to youth within the jurisdiction of the council, the release noted.

Diana is bilingual coordinator for the Walla Walla School District. She has 34-plus years experience as a Spanish, English and English-as-a-second-language teacher.

Through those years, she has helped immigrant students learn English and then advocated and assisted students in becoming assets to their community.

She taught several generations of immigrant students English in the Walla Walla Valley while developing teaching methods and strategies that have served her students.

"From the beginning, she determined that the success of her immigrant students was not just dependent on classroom instruction, but also on a steady level of advocacy for her students and the creation of activities that will engage students and their families in the educational process." Diana has overcome barriers to provide educational and culturally appropriate extracurricular activities for the students. Exploring Post 311 has become a significant support program for Latino students on the Wa-Hi campus.

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The renowned Seattle Women's Chorus will be in Walla Walla May 20 to perform a benefit concert for Blue Mountain Heart to Heart.

The concert is free but folks will be invited to make donations to BMH2H as they enter and depart the concert venue at First Congregational Church of Walla Walla, UCC, 73 S. Palouse St.

It is SWC's performance debut in Southeastern Washington, said Parke Thomas in a release. SWC is half of the largest community chorus (the other half is the Seattle Men's Chorus) in the United States and the third-largest music/arts organization in Washington state. They perform classical, jazz, gospel, traditional, Broadway, contemporary and popular styles.

Their well-known director since 1979, Dennis Coleman, is brother of Ron Coleman, owner of Walla Walla's Ice-Burg Drive-In. "Funding cuts have had a very big impact on (BMH2H) and the battle against HIV/AIDS. Also, for lovers of music and the arts, this family-friendly event is an important moment for Walla Walla," Parke said.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or 526-8313.

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