Some of you have lived this community of years and have seen the exciting display of Derby cars racing down William St every June for the last 19 years. Some of you haven’t experienced it yet and I encourage you to do so; it’s something you don’t see just anywhere!
When I started with Parks & Rec in April 2013, I learned that one of the events I was going to coordinate was the Soap Box Derby. I wondered, “What is the world is a Soap Box Derby?!” I’d never even heard of a Soap Box. Thus, insane amounts of Googling ensued. Once I saw some videos I was thinking there is no way that this is a legit race that happens right in downtown Fredericksburg. I was wrong. My first year, I was shocked at the dedication of families with trailers wrapped in cool graphics to transport their race cars, the tents popped up all along the sidewalks like a true tailgate (sans alcohol), the cheers, enthusiasm; I was in awe.
Here we are again with another Derby, veteran racers and newbies alike, ready to race for the Champion spot in their divisions.
But this year, it feels little different. In 2015, our Derby family has experienced a rollercoaster of emotions but with the overwhelming support of this little community we have formed, we overcame all the obstacles. We are forever grateful for the deep connections and ties that the Derby family has.
Milestones - Our department director, Robert Antozzi who has seen the Derby through since its inception, will attend his last one as he is retiring in August after 30 years of dedicated service. Starting Monday the week of the Derby, he wears special Derby shirts every day. He helps clean up after the event. He hands out trophies. He is totally involved in this event that he adores and we are truly going to miss having him around…and his display of shirts!
Courage - In October of 2014 at the age of 31, Lindsey Staples Dean the daughter of the Derby organizers Alvin and Michele, was diagnosed with Fibrolameller Hepatocellular Carcinoma, a rare form of liver cancer that affects a mere 200 people each year. Through the deeply woven connections that the Derby creates, there were two special doctors whose children were racers, who were involved in her road to recovery. Check out this article from the Free Lance-Star today. Lindsey is now cancer-free thanks to her little brother Travis Staples being a hero and a match for a liver transplant. Extraordinary story. They will ALL be at the Derby on Saturday. Learn more about Lindsey and her fight here.
We have amazing sponsors and community members that support us, including Fredericksburg Parent. They came on this year as a co-title sponsor and have helped us spread the word like wildfire. They helped us reach families that might not have ever heard of the Derby, they put it right in your lap to consider. I personally invite you to come out THIS Saturday, June 13 at 8am to see what it’s all about. Who knows, the 2017 Derby Champion might be your child!
Amazing things happen at this event every year. Connections are made. Champions are crowned. Children walk away win, lose or draw, with a new-found confidence that they just took on the beast called William St Hill.