Greater PA Superkids Soap Box Derby

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Pam Dorfi,

Phone: 724-347-6009 or 724-301-0690

SuperKids Race: Saturday June 27, 2020 Registration: 8:00 - 9:00 Parade: 9:30 Race Starts: 11:00

Adult Race: Saturday May 2, 2020 Registration: 10:30 Race Starts: 11:00 Location: Pierce Ave, Sharpsville, PA

UPDATE: 'Derby lady' preps for special kids' race day

Herald Staff Writer SHARON — Published April 13, 2009 03:20 pm

Pam Dorfi met a couple the other day and, when Ms. Dorfi told them her name, the woman said, “Oh, you’re the derby lady.” The year after Ms. Dorfi and her fellow members of the Sharon Elks Club founded the Greater Pennsylvania Super Kids soap box derby in Sharon, Ms. Dorfi has achieved some measure of notoriety. More importantly, the derby has a track record. Ms. Dorfi already has some money in hand for this year’s derby — June 27 — some of last year’s sponsors have said they will return — including lead sponsor Henry P. Nemenz of Sharon Save-a-Lot and a number of volunteers have signed up.

“It’s coming together,” she said, adding that she is more relaxed this year than she was last year, when she didn’t know if she could pull off her dream.“It’s coming together,” she said, adding that she is more relaxed this year than she was last year, when she didn’t know if she could pull off her dream. “I can’t wait,” the Hermitage woman said. “I’m really excited.” The derby is for kids with special needs. They race down East State Street in specially built cars steered by experienced drivers. The winner gets to go to the All-American Rally Championship in Akron.

Ms. Dorfi is hoping to double the number of racers. Twenty-seven braved the hill last year, and she wants 40 to 50 to catch the thrill this year. So far, 11 applications have come in. Racers must be 8 to 17 years old and have verifiable mental and/or physical challenges as defined by he Americans With Disabilities Act. The derby is free to racers and their families. “There is nothing the children have to bring but themselves that day,” she said. Watching the race also is free, and Ms. Dorfi is hoping people will line the course just below White Avenue to watch the races — as they did last year. “We need people on the hill to cheer these kids on,” she said.

Organizers had five more cars built, bringing the total to 15. The cars are decorated with sponsor decals, just like NASCAR racers. The success of last year’s derby has spun-off a new race. After a Campbell, Ohio, child won last year’s race, the mayor of Campbell started planning the city’s own derby, which has been set for June 13. Ms. Dorfi and others from the Sharon derby will help out, and allow use of the Sharon Elks’ cars. “We’re hoping next year to add a couple more cities,” she said.

The Elks will hold a spaghetti dinner to raise money for the Sharon derby from 1 to 5 p.m. May 3 at their building at 260 Connelly Blvd., Sharon. Takeouts will be available. The derby organizing committee will meet every Friday starting May 1. For information on being a member of the committee, volunteering on race day, sponsorship or racer registration, call Ms. Dorfi at 724-347-6009 or 724-301-0690.

Donations may be made to Greater Pennsylvania Super Kids in care of Shenango Valley Foundation, 33 Chestnut St., Sharon 16146.



“Look out world” derby driver boasts

By Matt Snyder Herald Staff Writer SHARON — Published JUNE 29, 2008

From the time he woke up Saturday morning, the soap box derby on East State Street in Sharon was on Patrick Gelesky’s mind, his father said. “I’m going to get in that soapbox derby car, and then look out world,” Patrick said, waiting alongside his dad, Robert, and his brother, Nicklaus, for his chance to race. Patrick is a clear racing fan, sporting the derby’s T-shirt and a pair of Dupont racing pants. His dad said Patrick likes to watch races. It was Sharon’s first Super Kids soap box derby, an event held for kids with physical disabilities. Many children waited at the sidelines in wheelchairs or on crutches, strapping on blue racing helmets or keeping them on hand. Racers came from all over, said organizer Debbie Hunsicker: Youngstown, Erie, New Castle, and other parts of western Pennsylvania. Mrs. Hunsicker is a longtime organizer for another derby out of Akron, but offered to lend a hand in putting together Sharon’s first race. Zakkary Marriotti had been waiting nearly two months for his change to race down East State, from Forker Boulevard to Stambaugh Avenue. “He’s excided,” said his mother, Lisa Marriotti. Zakkary was confident he had a little bit of virtual driving experience already. “X-Box doesn’t count,” his mom joked. Zakkary likes to play NASCAR games on the console. But Zakkary predicted the soap box derby would beat out his video game: “It’s going to be awesome.” Lauren Plummer, who made the drive along with her parents from Oil City, said it was the pre-race butterflies she was worried about. “I just hope I don’t get the weird tickling feeling in my stomach. I hate that feeling.” “She’s just happy to be here,” said her mother, Barb Plummer. “It’s nice just to have something all about her.” The route was lined with onlookers and bales of straw decorated with racing flags and American flags. The drivers, ages 8 to 17, took turns racing side-by-side downhill in a double-elimination contest so that every child got a chance to race at least twice, said lead organizer Pam Dorfi. “We need to see them smile twice,” she said. First place was taken by Gerry Petras from Campbell, Ohio. Coming in second was Zachary Wilson, Albion, Pa., and Lauren Plummer was third. It was all about seeing the kids’ smiles as they zoomed down the hill, Ms. Dorfi said. She organized the event on behalf of Sharon Elks Lodge 103. She said the Elks had helped sponsor a New Castle event four years ago and decided this year that Sharon was big enough to hold one of its own. And the community pitched in to make it happen, Ms Dorfi said. People donated, assembled or painted cars and sponsored the race. Ms. Dorfi said the event turned into a very large race for Sharon’s relative size. New Castle’s first race attracted about six contestants, she said, compared to the 29 who signed up in Sharon Saturday. Part of that recruitment boost came through the Elks, which run a volunteer nursing program, she said. That put the word out, and people responded. Among those who helped put the race together were sponsor Henry P. Nemenz, owner of Sharon’s Save-a-Lot, and Rick Taylor, owner of Advanced Autobody, Ms. Dorfi said. Organizers from other Super Kids races also pitched in from the very start, she said.

Soap box derby has special meaning; Special needs kids can ride in race

Written by By Joe Pinchot Herald Staff Writer SHARON — Published March 21, 2008 09:41 pm

Every time Pam Dorfi sees it, she cries. And, every time the Hermitage woman sees it, it reaffirms what she’s doing. The video shows last summer’s soap box derby race in New Castle, where special needs children got to ride in the pint-sized autos with derby participants.“ Those kids never smiled so much as they did coming down that hill,” said Ms. Dorfi, who is organizing a derby on behalf of Sharon Elks Lodge 103 for special needs kids. The Greater Pennsylvania Super Kids will be held June 28 on East State Street in Sharon. Registration is free. Although the race is designed for fun and to give the kids a chance to do something they probably would not otherwise get to do, it falls under the rules of the All-American Soap Box Derby. The winner will get to compete at the All-American Rally Championship July 26 in Akron, Ohio. Ms. Dorfi has helped out at races in New Castle the last three years, and recruited riders through a home nursing program for special needs children that the Elks raise money for. Unlike with the regular derby, the special needs kids do not drive. They are strapped in to ride with experienced derby drivers. While the program is new to Mercer County, Ms. Dorfi has found a large pool of people willing to help pull it off. Sharon Mayor Bob Lucas offered the city’s help and pulled in the Shenango Valley Foundation, which set up a fund and has helped with fundraising, and Harry P. Nemenz of Save-A-Lot, Sharon, which has signed on as corporate sponsor. Derek Fitzgerald of Zero Error Racing Inc., Sharon, donated three derby cars and is making the starting gate, and Bruce Hunsicker of Akron, who is on the national board, is rounding up trained drivers and has provided organizational advice. “It’s really taking off,” Ms. Dorfi said. “Everything has just pulled together. I’ve had so many people call and say, ‘I heard about this. What can I do to help?’ ” The race, which will be insured, will start at 1 p.m., following a parade, and State Street will be blocked off between Forker Boulevard and Stambaugh Avenue. Sharon High School’s handicapped accessible rest rooms will be open. The derby will be a double elimination format. “The kids will probably go down three or four times, not just once,” Ms. Dorfi said. “You can’t send these kids down that hill just once.” The winner gets an all-expenses paid trip to Akron for the finals, including two nights in a hotel, meals and a ball game. Ms. Dorfi is hoping to attract 20 kids to race, but will be able to handle more.


Written by Bruce Hunsicker March 2008

Speaking for myself, as the race director for the National Super Kids Classic, the Soap Box Derby race for special needs children, and also a 2006 inductee in the All-American Soap Box Derby Hall of Fame, let me state how pleased and proud that I am to welcome the Sharon Pa. area into this most worthwhile event. Pam Dorfi and B.P.O.E. Lodge 103, Sharon Elks have been staunch supporters of this event both as assisting with local races in the western Pa. area as well as sponsoring a derby car in the national race. It is without this type of financial and manpower assistance that this type of derby racing could not take place on an annual basis. In 2007, for the first time in our short five year history, the national race was held in conjunction with the storied All-American and International race in Akron. For 2008, this same format will be adhered to. The actual race will be held at Derby Downs, Akron, OH. on Friday, July 25 with the top six finalists being held for the big race on July 26. With the addition of Sharon as a "new" race city, along with at least seven others, we expect a field of 70+ Super kids from California to Main, Iowa to Florida, and possibly our first international contestant from Japan. Once more, a big THANK YOU to the people of Sharon Pa. for all of their hard work and dedication to the special needs children of your area. The National Super Kids are pleased and proud to welcome you aboard!



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