Is Flying Colors Sports’s Great Amazing Race a scam?

(UPDATE: Flying Colors Sports’s owner Greg Benton posted a response in the comments below.)

Yesterday, my son and I did a family race.

It was called the Great Amazing Race, put on by Flying Color Sports. It’s supposedly a lighter version of the same thing you can see on TV.

It was neither great nor amazing.

It’s presented like a charity:

Here’s a problem: this “charity” has the patina of a loose, for-profit operation:

  • No IRS-recognized charities have names beginning with “flying colors sports” or “active families“. In fact, Flying Colors Sports is an Ohio for-profit LLC that was chartered in 2004. Ohio had no business on record beginning with “active families”. (Search for yourself.)
  • Through Google, I can’t find clear evidence of anything charitable these Active Families 30 or Active Families 60 charities have done, or that they even exist!
  • The event organizer said Akwasi Owusu-Ansah was supposed to attend but couldn’t because he was just traded. Um, no. It was January 15. He had been traded 6 weeks prior, on Dec. 4.
  • Poorly run, disorganized event, especially for something that cost between $30 and $50 per family.
  • No trained medical staff, or if they were there, they were well-hidden.
  • Was run worse than many free Cub or Boy Scout events I’ve been to.
  • Low-quality, sloppy web site with poor poorfreading, like “Norbuck Par” or “I-365” (it’s I-635!). In fact, it’s just thrown together with Godaddy’s free Website Tonight tool (see bottom of most pages).
  • The promised race packet was just a green, generic bifold flyer with no useful event details.
  • Credit card data is transmitted with no security and converted to email, which is inherently insecure.
  • No runner identification whatsoever. It’s all on an honor system basis. I could have easily scammed my way into the event.
  • Instead of “8 fun-filled stations“, there were six, and they were silly: 1. blindfolded guide, 2. sponge relay, 3. mummy wrap with toilet paper, 4. golfing a tennis ball into a hula hoop, 5. “hold the football between your legs while you go around some cones” and 6. a bingo game. Yes, the last station is really a game of chance, where you watch slower people get lucky and pass you up! Sure, these were enjoyable, but not $30-$50 per team enjoyable!
  • Purportedly tax-deductible donations are to be sent to the private residence of Donald and Karen S. Helton at 7858 Red Fox Drive, West Chester OH 45069.
  • The company’s headquarters are at the private residence of Gregory L. and Michelle R. Benton at 8270 Miranda Place, West Chester OH 45069.

So what’s the truth? Is there really any charity behind this?

I don’t know.

It could be that this is all legit, and some charity puts on an overpriced, over-promoted, hokey event run by a marketing firm that communicates poorly.

But it’s also possible that this is only a for-profit enterprise. If that’s true, it would be shameful. They would be getting undeserved free labor, and they would pretty much be pocketing money from families’ charity budgets.

Either way, participants deserve the truth, and they deserve something better than a brief, sloppy event for $30-$50, and taxpayers deserve for a charity to be organized properly, with IRS recognition.

22 thoughts on “Is Flying Colors Sports’s Great Amazing Race a scam?”

  1. My daughter and I participated in the same event yesteday (Feb. 11) in Nashville.
    I was thinking the same thing as you.

    Being a newspaper reporter, my investigative instincts kicked in after going to the event.
    I was running down some things on this “company” when I found your post.
    I’d like to compare notes on our events, etc. since yours and mine seem to be the only races that have occurred this year.

    We came in 2nd overall in our race, and my daughter is very excited.
    She wants to go to the “nationals” in New Orleans Dec. 29.
    I’m very leary of this and want to find out all I can before deciding and/or telling her that it is a scam.

    Look forward to hearing from you –

    Stephanie Yarbrough
    jsyarbrough2@me.com
    256-468-7302

    1. Ms. Yarbrough,
      I have been investigating this “company” for over two years. Flying colors sports has amazing race camps almost every weekend. I would appreciate it if we could campare notes.
      Michelle

  2. Mr. Cambre,

    I was forwarded your link by a few of our race participants that have taken offense to the language and tone you are using to defame a kids and family event. Your use of the word SCAM, being define … as a confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit; swindle … is off color. It certainly appears as if you were clearly unsatisfied with many elements of the race. It is clearly promoted as a 1 mile, adventure race, slanted more towards FUN vs competitive.

    We rightfully admit that we nor our volunteers are not perfect when administering the race. We all do our best to deliver a great experience for our racers and kids. We also welcome and received some great input to make future races better.

    However, your assumption and language announces this as a fraud in offensive. We would ask that in the future, that you or anyone else in question take the initiative and call to ask us any questions. We are more than happy to answer your questions and can provide info on our tax exempt status.

    …. “Thank you for your time and what an awesome day my son and I had. My son could not stop talking about it and thanking me for taking him! I truly appreciate the work you and your team our doing, it has made memories that will last a life time.” Jacksonville race parent.

    Thank you. And god bless you.

    Greg Benton
    513.518.0528
    gbenton@flyingcolorssports.com

    1. Greg,

      Is any of this true? If people are not pleased, will you refund thier money. I am planning to race tomorrow (March 23, 2014) with my son and want it to be a great experience. I only did this so we can do an interactive fun event together. I would hope that it is organized. I want to have a wonderful experience.

  3. Mr. Cambre,
    First of all Greg heard of your blog from me, his ex wife, I was fortunate to stumble upon it. When he learned of it he referred to you as a racist. Secondly, you are dead on correct about everything you said. Except the part about Greg and I still being married. He has brought financial devastation to my children and me and I won’t even mention the ten’s of thousands of dollars he owes in back child/spousal support. Check c.s.e.a. website , matter of public record. While he goes out every weekend and makes a lot of money under the guise of a non profit. I would very much appreciate it if we could speak privately. You have my email. May I congratgulate you on your thorough research. Excellent. Michelle

  4. My husband and daughter just participated in the “Nationals” in Cincinnati and I must say, we were super disappointed. Of course, it is for fun, however, it should be organized for a $2000 first place prize! The people at each station did nothing to check who was “Racer #1 or #2” leaving it up to the adult to decide who was better suited for the task. If you followed the rules, for example, it might lead a child to try to punt a field goal, but with no one verifying, a dad could jump in there and do it.

    There were many arguments, lots of crying children, several mishandled stations. At the end, my husband and daughter came in first in their “heat.” We waited for results to be announced and not only did they not place, the wrong name was given as winner! There was so much confusion at the end of the race, there was no accuracy whatsoever.

    We didn’t win, we moved on with our lives. But we wanted to show our daughter that she competitively placed in the “Nationals.” When the timed list was sent to us, they were second from the bottom? Literally, team 25/26. Really? They were first of the 13 in their heat?

    The whole thing was a disappointment. I felt horrible for the teams that FLEW in from other areas (Chicago, Pittsburg, Minnesota??) only to have a poorly done event take place.

    Please invest in some shoe chips or something to truly time everyone. That’s the fun of a race! Not to mention, we paid $60 for our team to compete??

    We totally did this for fun as a family, but someone needs to get their act together….

    1. Wish I would have seen these posts/blogs before I entered. My son too came in first in his heat, 2nd in his age group, and 3rd overall. There were no medals as advertised and certainly no organization. After the race, I had to approach the director multiple times regrading the “awards” and finally he had someone pull out a stack of wrinkled “participation ribbons.” I had to purchase a trophy for my son after this 5 year old trained for 2 months leading up to this. I told him the truth – that sometimes people don’t follow through with what they say they will do, but that didn’t mean the trophy I purchased for him wasn’t warranted. We trained together and he joined a fit club for aftercare in his school. We were excited and used this as an instrument to teach dedication, commitment, and all those other words used to describe what this organization is missing. Now I read some of the comments above and wish something could be done to remedy the families that may get taken advantage of in the future.

  5. I am very sorry for all of the families and especially the children that have been taken advantage of by Greg Benton and “The Great American Race”. It is heartbreaking. F.Y.I., Go to the National Football Players Association website. There has been an ALERT issued concerning Greg Benton Flyingcolorssports.com and proathletesymposium.com Furthermore, if you want to affect change notify the Attorney General of your state concerning Flyingcolorssports and ” The Great American Race” concerning fraudulent business promises, prizes, awards,etc. Flying colors sports is registered as a FOR PROFIT BUSINESS LLC in the state of Ohio.

  6. [EDITOR’S NOTE: I have good reason to believe that this is either a fake account or Greg’s close friend. Take this comment with a grain of salt.]

    This race is a MUST DO for every family with kids!!
    We are avid runners and struggle to get our kids motivated to join us. However, they look forward to this race every time it comes to town (3rd time) and we now have our neighborhood doing it. And they change up the challenges every time to come.
    This race is legit and professionally run. At no time did they present themselves as a non-profit. They are providing a great service to families and we feel blessed to be offered the opportunity to do this with our kids.
    Michelle (above -his exwife) seems to have a personal vendetta against this man and company. Not sure what that is all about and frankly could care less.

    Bottom line. This a great event to do with your kids and friends. It is NOT a scam. You pay $20 and in return, get to enjoy a day of memories with those closest to you. It’s that simple.

  7. Laurent,
    You failed to mention who “we are” as “avid runners” as well as who “your kids” are or “the neighborhood doing it”. (?). Or what “town” you are referring to? Or “they change up the challenges every time to come”, unclear as to what this means? “Legit”? Is that slang ?

    Furthermore, if “you could care less” about said ex wife, it is perplexing as to why you accuse her of “having a personal vendetta against this man and his company”. That comment constitutes a slanderous statement. As many other bloggers from many different locations have stated with similar, clear and precise dissatisfied statements.
    You paid $20.00 ? That is some kind of bargain, as Mr. Benton’s website states entry fee is $50.00 per team. Clearly, other bloggers have claimed same.
    Whomever you are, wherever your neighborhood is, who ever your kids are, “simple” as that seems to be the key word.

  8. Are you guys kidding me???? I am so pissed. Chicago is cancelled. Not one word from organizers. Nothing on their Facebook page. We just happened to go on their website and clicked on Chicago and it says race date has changed. No other info. This stinks of scam and I doubt I’ll be seeing a refund. This race was not for me but for a group of elementary school kids who were very much looking forward to this event. What a scam. Clearly no refund. If you’re wondering…a bunch of dates are cancelled. Not that you would know it if you visited their home page or facebook page. Who does that!

  9. I just wanted to say our families recently did the race and it was exactly what it was billed as, a fun family activity that you compete in. I never saw or heard anything that said proceeds were going for charity, except for old shoes that we had brought to redeem a time credit token. I read this blog just before the race and thought maybe I made a bad decision, but the girls were so excited as we had talked it up for a few weeks, so we decided to go and make the best of it. We had a blast! Halfway through the race my girls said to me that they were so glad we signed up and how much fun they were having. I guess since we only paid 30/team I didn’t really expect much more than an obstacle/challenge course. Everyone was polite, friendly and had great attitudes and I would do it again with more friends next spring.

  10. No way this event should have such a bad rap. My only complaint was that I missed the memo that it’s more a kids event. My partner and I still managed to have a heap of fun. Yes, the organization had some blips. But for $20 a person? The fun factor far outweighed the cost. I’ll certainly do it again next year and try to recruit more adults!

  11. You’ll love this email we got:
    =====================================
    > Dear Sponsor,
    >
    > We are once again hosting our annual Pro Athlete Networking
    > Seminar series that brings together NFL certified financial planners
    > and professional athletes. Each seminar is designed to maximize your
    > opportunity and includes receptions, roundtables and contact
    > information on all attendees. The event is designed to give you an
    > opportunity to network with pro athletes for a fraction of the cost to
    > do so individually.
    > The seminar covers opportunities in Oil and Gas, Insurance,
    > ETF’s, Green Stocks, Technology Stocks, Hard Assets, Corporate Bonds,
    > Options and more. .
    >
    >
    > Networking Seminar 1 Miami, Florida – January 23-25, 2015
    > Networking Seminar 2 Cancun, Mexico – March 13 -15, 2105
    > Networking Seminar 3 Cabo San Lucas – Mexico June 25-28, 2015
    >
    >
    > Sponsor Fee includes the following: room, coach flight, room at
    > event hotel, 30 minute presentation, all contact information for
    > attendees, and access to all group events.
    >
    >
    > Option 1: one event $10,000
    > Option 2: two events, $15,000
    > Option 3: three events, $18,000
    > xxxxxxxxx
    >
    >
    > Agenda for Pro Athlete Networking Seminar 1 Miami, Florida – January
    > 23-25, 2015
    >
    >
    > Friday – January 23, 2015
    > Arrivals
    > Yacht Party
    > Cocktails and Dinner
    >
    >
    > Saturday – January 24, 2015
    > Registration
    > Roundtables
    > Cocktail Party
    >
    >
    > Sunday – January 25, 2015
    > Departures
    >
    >
    > Sponsor Opportunities for Seminar 1
    > Event Sponsor: $10,000 ( 4 available)
    > Yacht Party Sponsor: $15,000 ( 1 available)
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > All sponsor opportunities are available on a first come basis.
    > Feel free to contact me if you have any questions at 513.518.0528 or
    > info@flyingcolorssports.com. Thanks and I look forward to hearing from
    > you.
    >
    > Regards,
    >
    > Gregory Benton
    > Executive Vice President
    > Flying Colors Sports Marketing & Community Relations for Pro Athletes
    > Marketing & Community Relations for Pro Athletes Since 2005 / Over 150
    > Athletes / Giving Back
    > (p) 513.518.0528 (e) info@flyingcolorssports.com

    1. Well, well, well, it seems as though Mr. Benton has forgotten about the ALERT that was issued from the National Football Players Association (btw one can go to the website to read the alert in full) concerning Flying Colors Sports and the “pro athlete symposium. However, I will be notifying Mr. Christie, Director of Security for the N.F.P.A.. Furthermore, yacht parties? Sounds rather swanky for someone whom owes $11,000.00 in child support arrears and just filed their FIFTH bankruptcy in four years(public record-Ohio) last one dismissed 9/14 for non-payment and Mr. Benton filed it under his LLC- Flying Colors Sports! Can anyone say snake oil salesman?

        1. nflplayers.com The alert was issued on 3/6/14. The Director of Security is Tim Christine. I misspelled his name in prior post.

  12. This is a scam. Two days prior to the event in Fort Wayne I received an email from Greg that it would be rescheduled for July. I never heard another word but checked the website a week or two later and noticed that it was rescheduled for July 31st. A couple weeks prior, I looked at website again and noticed location change from Indiana to Michigan (serving Ft Wayne area). I emailed asking for refund because I was not going to drive additional two hours for changed in venue. I have not received response and the phone number on email does not work. Also, the website is now down. I contacted both the Fort Wayne parks dept and they never had any records of the event being scheduled on either dates. I also contacted Active.com because that is who I used to register for the event and they do not have any records of the event begin rescheduled and cannot refund my money because director never contacted them about change in date/venue.
    DO NOT REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT! I do not what this to happen to others! My daughter and I were looking so forward to this event and even had matching shirts made.

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