Soap Box Derby Encourages A Winning Spirit 2009: Contestants Seat

Soap box derby encourages a winning spirit

The contestants take their seat in a sleek, engineless car, many of them lifted into place.
They put on a helmet, smile at Mom and Dad, lean forward and fly down the hill. At the end of the race, every child or young adult has his or her moment on the victory stand, where the reward is a red, white and blue ribbon and medal more precious than any Olympic gold. The race Last year, Ron Chance watched his son Austin, now 11, roll across the finish line first in the final event, winning a $2,000 scholarship. The exuberant child who experienced complications at birth and has had nine surgeries was thrilled. “Just seeing the smile on their faces coming down the hill in a non-motorized car, you can’t express that. Just with the wind in their hair and crossing the finish line, they’ve won,” said Ron Chance, Austin’s dad. “Everyone gets a trophy at the awards banquet. Everyone is a winner. It’s an awesome experience to see kids who don’t typically get to do things like this because of their obstacles get to do something that other kids aren’t involved in. To be able to compete.” As the local champion, Austin, a student at Sallie Curtis, went on to compete in the nationals in Akron, Ohio. “It just got better. It was a life-changing experience for Austin,” Chance said. “We saw other kids with obstacles, including one girl who was without legs. They had 50 kids there, while we are limited to 16 here. Austin came in eighth nationally, which was awesome.” Like most 9-year-olds, Gavin politely offers his hand when he meets someone. Not Austin.
“Austin has a huge heart and loves everybody. He doesn’t give handshakes he hugs. He’s a wonderful kid,” Chance said. “He plays Little Dribblers and baseball and sings in the choir at First United Methodist Church downtown. This year, he’ll go to the derby as a previous champion. He’ll be cheering his brother on – and as a spectator, to cheer the other super kids on.”

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