by Mark R. Potter
Stow -- Although his mother said he has never had any interest in even riding a bicycle, that is not going to stop 10-year-old Raymond Fox from participating in this year's Super Kids Classic, a soap box derby for special needs children.
Raymond's mother, Cam Jellison, said her son, who has been diagnosed with autism with moderate retardation, became interested in the event as a spectator during last year's event.
"We couldn't even get him to ride a bicycle," Cam said. "We were just excited he was interested. It's a great program."
On June 2 at the Akron Soap Box Derby Downs, the Echo Hills Elementary student will race in a specially-made, two-seat car donated by The Greater Akron Motorcycle Club.
He and the other participants' cars will be driven by an experienced driver.
Melony Heyn, registration chairman for the derby, said special needs children from ages 8 to 18 can participate in the race -- sponsored by Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 34 -- at no cost. She said last year's event had approximately 50 racers.
So what is it about the race that has kept Heyn involved for 24 of the race's 26-year existence?
"It's the smiles on the kids' faces," she said. "We get to provide these kids a chance to go down the Derby Downs hill that they never would have had any other way."
Raymond and the other participants will race until they are defeated twice in a "double elimination" method, according to Heyn.
Although all the participants will be awarded trophies, she said the top two performers will participate in the National Super Kids Classic July 19 to 21, which also takes place at Derby Downs.
Jellison did not predict a sure victory for Raymond, but she did hint the other racers may be in for a surprise.
"He's very quiet, but he's quick," Cam said. "He's an amazing little boy."
For more information on the local Super Kids Classic, call Mike Arnold, president of the VVA Chapter 34, at 330-773-6436.
For more information on the National Super Kids Classic, visit nationalsuperkids.org.
Phone: 330-688-0088 ext. 3154