Drum roll, please, for the International Soap Box Derby for bringing the Autism Society of Greater Akron under its tent.
“This partnership between two great nonprofits will bring more awareness to autism and those affected by it,” said Joseph Mazur, president and CEO of the derby. “Kids with autism have always participated in soap box racing and this partnership will further the awareness of this great family sport.”
To really roll out the welcome mat for this partnership, Mazur has set April 20 as Autism Awareness Day at Derby Downs in Akron.
Children on the autism spectrum and their families can spend the day at the track, he said. They can race down the world-famous 989-foot track, decorate and assemble mini soap box derby cars and race them down a model of Derby Downs. And they’ll also tour the historic hall of fame and museum of past world champ cars. All in the effort to rev up their desire to participate.
Laurie Cramer, director of the Autism Society of Greater Akron, couldn’t be more excited: “A recent study showed that children on the autism spectrum gravitate toward STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields more than the general population. Yet they attend college at a far less rate.
“The derby is all about supporting STEM interests and this is one way to expose more individuals on the spectrum to the fun of the derby, and tap into those interests in a new way. The derby is also an ‘autism friendly’ event for spectators. The cars are quiet and derby organizers are very accommodating so all families can enjoy the fun of the derby.”
And there’s this.
“The derby will provide the Autism Society the opportunity to promote its organization at derby events including the 76th running of the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby on July 27,” said Rachel Whinnery, communications manager for the International Soap Box Derby. This organization is the governing body of derby racing, including the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby at Derby Downs and the Gravity Racing Challenge, a school-based STEM initiative.
The derby dates back to 1934 and held its first All-American race in Dayton. It has grown exponentially since then, with more than 600 races in 130 different racing districts throughout the world annually.
I had this hopeful email from Uniontown’s Christine Ternosky waiting for me after a week away:
“A couple weeks ago, I had a tire blow out (lost the total tread like trucks do) on the freeway. I was able to get off the exit which was Lakeshore Boulevard. It was dark (after 6 p.m.) and the temperature was in the single numbers. After being passed by multiple cars (including APD) a young black man stopped.
“He sent his wife first, then came back to see if I needed help. I told him my brother was on his way, and he said “I’ll stay with you until your brother gets here. And he did! …
“I cannot tell you how thankful I was for that angel in a Cleveland Browns hat. Unfortunately, with the excitement, I did not get his name, but would love to be able to say thank you to him. He didn’t have to stop, but did and I will always be grateful for his stopping to help someone ‘just because.’
“There are amazing people everywhere and believe me, I have thanked God for him and his family ever since! And, yes, I will surely pay it forward!”
Circle the calendar for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, when the Get Well Gabby Foundation, Jay Patrick Boland and the Members Only Band, Matthew “Lig” Knabe, the Allen Ilg Band, Iconic Rockwear and JB’s host a night of live music at JBs at 246 N. Water St., Kent.
Founded in 2012, the Get Well Gabby Foundation began with the mission to raise research dollars to help families with children diagnosed with brain cancer in memory of Gabriella Vogel, a 5-year-old who died of a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).
Admission is $7 (additional $2 for persons under 21). For information, please email email@example.com or call 216-990-8360.
Calling senior volunteers
Nominations for “Outstanding Senior Volunteers” — persons 65 and older who volunteer at least 15 hours a month to their favorite causes — are being accepted through March 31 through the Salute to Senior Service program sponsored by Home Instead Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care network.
State winners will be selected by online voting that will take place April 15-30. A panel of experts will choose the national Salute to Senior Service honoree who will receive $5,500 for his or her nonprofit charity of choice.
“We all know seniors who do so much for our community,” said Jeannie Radcliff, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care offices serving the Greater Cleveland and Akron area. “These silent heroes give selflessly, expecting nothing in return. And yet, their contributions often make a difference not only to the organizations they serve, but in changing how the public views growing older.”
For more information about the program, to submit a nomination online and to view the rules, please visit www.SalutetoSeniorService.com. Forms also can be mailed to Salute to Senior Service, P.O. Box 285, Bellevue, NE 68005.
Belated thanks to Green Primary School students who took the time out of their busy schedules to produce 500 handmade Valentine’s Day cards for patients at Akron General Medical Center.
The cards were distributed to the patients by the hospital’s volunteers and nursing staff.
Tea party for children
“Pastries with the Princesses,” an annual tea-party benefit for the Dane Foundation, is planned for 2 p.m. Sunday at Redeemer Family Life Center, 2141 Fifth St., Cuyahoga Falls.
Attendees dress up as their favorite princess or prince, and meet royalty from fairy tales, explained Lowery D. Lockard, president and founder of the Dane Foundation which “provides for the unique needs of individuals with disabilities, single mothers and senior citizens in Northeast Ohio. Over the holidays alone, the Dane Foundation assisted more than 500 individuals from the Northeast Ohio area to meet their immediate needs as well as providing for many Christmas wishes.”
Tickets for the tea are $14 and must be purchased in advance. Adults must accompany their child and have a ticket too; they are encouraged to bring cameras.
For more information, please call 330-703-1183 or email Info@TheDaneFoundation.org.
Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.