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Ladies and gentlemen, start your mattresses.

Eight teams and their beds duked it out Saturday at Cape Harbor in Cape Coral in the inaugural Racing for Cancer Causes Bed Race. It was organized by the 4 Words Foundation, Inc. and 21st Century CARE, two Southwest Florida-based cancer-awareness and advocacy nonprofits.

The goal was to raise money to support cancer research, patient assistance, education, screenings and awareness for all cancers. About 90 minutes into the event, organizers were pleased with the turnout and said they exceeded their fundraising goals. They raised more than $4,000; final totals won't be known until Tuesday.

"It's a little bigger than I thought. Just a lot of great people out for a great cause," said Marie Springsteen, founder and president of the 4 Words Foundation.

The idea to race beds was because of the shared experience. Anyone who's dealt with cancer personally or in a loved one has spent time in or near a bed, she said.

Vendors, including a pink firetruck from Pink Heals and a mobile mammogram center, were on site to support the event.

For three hours Saturday, 40 racers competed in an elimination tournament.

Each team has five racers, four who pushed and one who rode on the bed, Beds had to be at least be three feet wide by five feet long, have four wheels and no mechanical devices. After that, design was up to the teams.

The course stretched 200 feet: a straightaway for the first hundred feet or so followed by a left turn around a traffic circle on streets within Cape Harbor to the finish line.

The teams also competed for the best dressed award, given to the most outstanding team costumes, as voted on by spectators and other racers. Competition was fierce.

One team was dressed as poker dealers pushed a hospital gurney. Another shoved a pirate ship, complete with a buccaneer crew.

For Kevin Phillips and his team from R.L. James Inc., the theme was luxury.

"The first thing we through of was a canopy," he said, moments after losing a race.

The R.L. James racer had a white lace canopy, bordered by blue and yellow aluminum, donated and crafted by a teammate. The team was there to help support the cause, because many had personally dealt with cancer within their families, Phillips said.

Nearby, racers from the Express Employment Professionals team pondered their two losing races. Dressed in blue shirts and blue wigs, the crew considered what do do for next year.

Changes would be needed to their racer, a box spring with plywood siding and heavy wheels. They'll need lighter materials next year and better coordination, they said. What's not changing are the four corner posts. Each of the four bed posts was painted a different color to represent family and friends affected by cancer.

"All of us have been touched by cancer and we wanted to give back. This seemed like a good way to help," racer Alyssa Koehler said.

To help

• 4 Words Foundation, Inc: Contact info@4wordsfoundation.org or 887-9264.

• 21st Century CARE: Visit 21stcenturycare.org for ways to donate.

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