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Ruby Begonia challenges Minnesota rival to ALS ice bucket challenge

By Sara Sneath
Aug. 23, 2014 at 5:51 p.m.
Updated Aug. 26, 2014 at 7:42 a.m.

Ruby Begonia team captain Clint Clark holds the turkey that will be Ruby Begonia again this year for the Great Gobbler Gallop at the Cuero Turkeyfest after racing two turkeys down Main Street on Saturday. Ruby will first race against her nemesis Paycheck in Worthington, Minn. next month before returning to race in Cuero in October.

CUERO - Ruby Begonia, who currently holds the title of the Fastest Turkey in the World, has challenged his arch-nemesis Paycheck to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

The annual selection of Ruby Begonia was Saturday evening on Main Street. After the event, in which the same turkey from 2013 was selected to run again, Ruby and the Cuero Turkeyfest Association race team challenged their Worthington, Minn., rivals for a good cause.

Ruby and the race team were challenged by Cory Thamm, who raises the turkeys from which Ruby is selected. Thamm is also a Turkeyfest board member and owner of The Wild Turkey Bar & Grill.

"It's all in good fun, and it's for a good cause," said race team captain Clint Clark before a front-end loader dropped a load of ice on the team.

Thamm raised $250 to donate to the ALS Association, a nonprofit that funds research to find treatments and a cure to Lou Gehrig's disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Thamm currently has about 20 birds on his farm. The turkeys are bred and hatched at the farm, where he dusts and worms them.

"He leads a life of luxury. He's got four girlfriends in his own pin," Thamm said of Chitchat, the turkey that stands in for Ruby Begonia during media events, including the ice bucket challenge.

Ruby was originally a hen, though the turkeys raced now are mostly gobblers, or male turkeys, said Alan Kahlich, who was on the turkey race team in the '70s. The name Ruby Begonia came from a Sammy Davis Jr. skit, in which he asked, "Do the name Ruby Begonia strike a familiar note?"

On Saturday, the turkey that ran as Ruby in 2013 was selected once again because of a predisposition to run straight, Clark said, kissing Ruby on the neck.

The Great Gobbler Gallop between Paycheck, of Worthington, Minn., and Ruby Begonia, of Cuero, has a history of turkeys without such a quality. Most recently, in 2007, the turkey selected as Ruby did not make it across the finish line in Worthington or Cuero, said Mary Kahlich, who was on the race team in the '70s.

During the race in Cuero, the 2007 Ruby flew on top of a building and was later found with a helicopter.

"Training a turkey would be like training a cat. They do what they want," said Mary Kahlich.



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