Monday, October 14, 2019

Orlando Super Kids Classic

Pam Schwartz and I went to Special Soap Box Derby Races with special needs children at Manheim Central Florida, (9800 Bachman Road South, Orlando, FL.) This story began in 1980 with the #34 Chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America. That year, the group took on a community project; they chose to work with the Akron Soap Box Derby. Veteran Dave Mitan was working with the racers when a tug on his shirt caught his attention. As he turned around, Dave came face to face with a special needs child. Sitting next to a brother who was competing that day, the child asked, “Why can’t I do that?” Dave’s heart was so moved and his spirit so touched that he shared the experience with his fellow veterans.

Together, the chapter immediately scheduled a meeting with the All-American Soap Box Derby to design and build cars for these special children. The following year, in 1981, the first race was held in Akron, Ohio. Through the smiling faces and positive attitudes of these special children, the veterans were able to overcome many of their own debilitating war experiences. Thus the event was named the “Super Kids Classic.” 

Dave travels the country with his sons, transporting the cars and ramp equipment in a truck. There is a heart warming level of glee among the kids who participated. One girl took the lead in her race and her car veered off course until she gently coasted to a stop just short of some fencing. One enthusiastic young boy kept pressing his father to let him race in the eagle car. When he won his race he desperately wanted to try another car. Granted the cars probably never went faster then 10 miles an hour and they coasted to a stop after just 50 yards, but the joy and contagious enthusiasm was overwhelming. On this particular race day a child with special needs was paired with another child in foster care. It was fun to watch everybody interact and have such a great time all afternoon!

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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