The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Community

June 29, 2014

Special need for speed

Soapbox race attracts record number of kids

SHARPSVILLE — The Pittsburgh Pirates Parrot mascot was a big hit at the Seventh Annual Super Kids Classic Race on Saturday in Sharpsville.

When they weren’t racing their soap box derby cars, the 35 special needs children who took part in this year’s race were jazzed up to meet the Parrot.

“I’m a Pirates fan!” said Ashley Spears, 16, of Sharpsville.

Ashley enlisted her good friends, Taylor Tonty and Karin Shay, both 12, to run her lemonade stand, since she was a driver in the race.

Ashley’s stand is well-known in the soap box derby world, as she works her stand every year at the adult “fund racer,” held in May to raise funds for the kids’ derby. She made $135 for the Super Kids race there this year, on a very rainy day, she added.

The special needs children who participated in this year’s race came from all over western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio so they could fly down Pierce Avenue between Seventh and 10th streets on a sweltering summer day, while spectators fought for a place in the shade to watch the race.

Usually, the two fastest teams head to Akron for the All-American Rally Championship, but due to an increase in donations, they were able to send the top three: Nathan Smith of Seneca, first place; Cody Montgomery of West Middlesex, second place; and Landon McConnell of Sharpsville, third.

About a third of the kids registered for the race were local faces.

“It was just confirmed Thursday that we are the largest Super Kids race in the nation, with 35 children,” said Pam Dorfi, race director.

The race started at 11 a.m. after a parade, and by about 4:30 p.m., the street was cleared out.

Dorfi said that their target goal of $10,000 was exceeded this year. The money goes right into the pot with Sharon-based Community Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio.

This year was the first time the event was held in Sharpsville, and Dorfi said it attracted a record-breaking number of people.

“We couldn’t do it without the community of Sharpsville,” Dorfi said. “I appreciate everything the community has done.”

In addition to large donations from local sponsors, someone paid for the Pirate Parrot to show up for the morning, and another paid to bring the radio station, Froggy 95, and its froggy mascot to the party.

Dorfi is one of seven children whose father raced in the 1950s. With the exception of a sister who passed away two years ago, all of them got involved with the event because a member of their family is a special needs child. All of the surviving siblings were there.

“It’s my family that really helps,” Dorfi said, as she choked up. “Sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews and grandkids were working on the hill today.”

Dorfi said she will start today preparing for next year’s race.

“All we want to do is put smiles on the kids’ faces,” she said.

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