Kids with disabilities enjoy a day of soapbox car racing, thanks to Lynnwood Rotary

The smile on this driver’s face says it all. 
Drivers enjoy the thrill of the race.

Returning after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Rotary Club of Lynnwood held its Challenge Series Race Saturday at Lynnwood Elementary School. The free event featured seven drivers and 24 co-drivers, along with about 40 friends and family who showed up to support them.

The Challenge Series Race pairs children 5 years and older who have developmental disabilities with non-disabled peers who are trained to guide a soapbox-style car down a racetrack and apply the brakes as necessary for a smooth and fun ride.

Participants gather for a group photo before the race.

Oak Harbor Rotary Club was the first in the state of Washington to host a soapbox car race for children with disabilities, and now 20 years later other Rotary clubs around the state have their own Challenge Races.

Rotary organizers Debbie Bodal, left, and Anne-Marie Lake.

After COVID delays, the clubs “are learning how to go forward” said Debbie Bodal, Challenge Series Race chair for Lynnwood Rotary Club.

“What’s unique about this year’s event is that the kids have grown in the last three years, and some of them can’t fit into the cars anymore,” Bodal said. “But they enjoy the race so much and had so much fun that they’ve come back as volunteers.”

The race is a family affair for (L-R) Nahom, Elsa and Nathan.

Bodal said that this year’s race saw a large increase in volunteers.

“We have the kids and their parents, and families that consider the race to be like a family day, and that’s been a lot of fun,” she said.

Everett AquaSox mascot Webbly.

Two mascots — Webbly from the Everett AquaSox and Drip from Mr. Kleen — made appearances and cheered the racers on to the finish line.

“Although we were concerned about the number of people we would get, I think today is a good turnout after COVID,” she said.

Cars on the starting block.
Co-announcer Ally.
Race participants in the pit.
Kristiana offers ice cream treats on one of the warmest days of the year.
Volunteers keep stats on the races. (Photo courtesy Debbie Bodal)

Sponsors included: Starting Line – Lynnwood Convention Center; Race Car – Award Services, SlabJack, Community Transit, Ultralign CPA LLC; Race Course – HomeStreet Bank, 1st Security Bank, Mr. Kleen Car Wash, Edward Jones, Badar Martin, Chermak Construction, Carter Acura and Partners – City of Lynnwood, Life Enrichment Options, Edmonds School District and Chick Fil A.

— Story and photos by Misha Carter

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