Though he’s six years away from being able to get his driver’s licence, Brody Paton is looking forward to getting back in the driver’s seat and racing down Hudson Avenue – in this year’s Friendship Day Soap Box Derby.
A fundraiser for BC Children’s Hospital, the derby is scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22, with registration from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and a mandatory meeting for racers at 12:30 sharp.
For this year’s event, the track is being extended with the starting line just below the Hudson Avenue/Shuswap Street intersection, and the finish roughly where the Living Waters Church is located.
While last year’s event was successful, with about 10 soap box carts and 30 racers taking part, Paton, the event’s founder, is hoping to see more people get involved, especially adults. He’d love to have local organizations like the City of Salmon Arm, the fire department and RCMP enter a cart, as well as other local businesses who aren’t already involved with the event.
“We’re welcoming any businesses to take part in this and we’re hoping more people will take part in it than we had last year,” said Paton, who is also looking for sponsors.
The young Salmon Arm resident started Friendship Day at age five with an event at Marine Peace Park. Getting it off the ground and keeping it going has been a fair bit of work for Paton, including presentations to city council.
“I just wanted to do something in the community that would be fun,” said Paton.
Paton switched things up last year with the introduction of the soap box race. This involved another visit to city council as well as drumming up interest and support from the community. And, of course, the building of a soap box racer. With help from his dad and donations from Canadian Tire and Trans Canada Custom Metal and Machine, Paton was able to have two racers ready for the event. For a $20 donation to BC Children’s Hospital, those who didn’t have racers of their own could use one of Patons.
Last year, the soap box derby helped to raise $500 for BC Children’s Hospital. This year Paton would like to double that.
For those building their own racers, Paton has set out the following criteria: they have to have wheels, brakes and steering, and must be push-powered, no engine or pedals.
Handling the administrative side of things for Paton is his mother, Michelle Kuster.
“This is totally Brody’s – I follow what he wants and what he says to do, and he’s created a wonderful event, and I love his enthusiasm of wanting to get the community involved and be part of this. It’s a great opportunity to interact and to build relationships and to build community,” said Kuster.
For more information about the event, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.