The race

12 years ago
What you need to know — ASAP
Sponsored by the Aroostook Substance Abuse Prevention Collaborative
By Allison Heidorn

On the day of the big Soapbox Derby race, a 10-year-old boy anxiously loaded his homemade car in the back of his families pick-up truck. He just knew today would be his day to win. After all he deserved it for all the many months he put into building his car, and practicing.

As all the racers lined up at the start line in their cars, he pictured himself with the trophy! Out of the corner of his eye he saw a handicapped classmate of his named Evan watching eagerly on the sideline, smiling and cheering from his wheelchair. Something strange happened to the boy in that moment. He leapt from his homemade Soapbox Derby car toward Evan and without a word he removed Evan from his wheelchair and carried him to his car. He placed a helmet on Evan’s head, and watched as Evan began the race.

No one remembers who won the race that day but the boy will never forget how he felt when he saw Evan having the time of his life. It was pure joy! That day changed his life as well as Evan’s.

Every day we are presented with opportunities such as this to make a difference in others’ lives. It is important that we grab a hold of the opportunities and allow youth to be a part of them. Search Institute identified Interpersonal Competencies, Asset No. 33, as part of the 40 Developmental Assets, experiences and qualities that help young people grow up healthy, caring and responsible. Having empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills are critical to a young person’s ability to navigate the world. It is our responsibility as parents to show our children that it is OK to give up a special moment in our own lives to watch someone else shine.

As was once said, “It is not the breaths we take that matter but the moments that take our breath away!” The moments when an underachiever succeeds, where deep sadness becomes unforgettable joy, and a 10-year-old boy gives up his chance at winning a Soapbox Derby race so a classmate can get the chance to have an experience that may never come again. The score of the big game or who actually won the race will fade over time but one will never forget a hand that reached to them in kindness.