Blue Ridge, Ga – The first annual Blue Ridge Soap Box Derby raised $4,900 for Fannin County School’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) program on Saturday, April 27.
The derby race was created by locals to benefit the community, specifically the children. Co-founder Brian Higgins said, “We have festivals here almost monthly, but none of them are geared toward kids, so we wanted to do something for them, and the best part is all the money goes back to them with the STEM program.”
The founders chose to donate to STEM for a couple of reasons. According to Higgins, “[Science, technology, engineering, and math] is every bit a box car when you think about.” It takes each area to build and race a soapbox car.
Second, STEM doesn’t receive SPLOST dollars. STEM’s funding comes from the general school budget, which also pays for other school supplies.
STEM teaches students computational thinking and how to use scientific methods to solve real-world problems. The program helps children to develop technological skills to find highly-sought after jobs.
All the cars adhered to soapbox derby car standards, using only gravity as a propulsion system. Each car and driver were weighed during the race qualifying to ensure everyone had a fair chance during the derby.
Local businesses sponsored and helped the children to build over 26 cars for the derby. The participants brought their creativity to the cars’ design from that paint to the wheels.
49 drivers raced down the hill at Fannin County Middle School on a great day for it. The school even donated the cafeteria for the day, so the children and spectators would have a lunch area. Local vendors were on hand to provide food for everyone in attendance.
Broken into three divisions, drivers fell into either the 7-11, 12-17, or 18 plus age groups. The 7-11 bracket had to win two out of three races during the preliminary round. The winners from those races moved on to the single race elimination round. The 12-17 and 18 plus brackets raced only a single elimination round.
Winners for the 7-11 Division
First Place: Watson
Second Place: Pierce
Third Place: Williams
Winner for the 12-17 Division
First Place: Twiggs
Second Place: Higgins
Third Place: Preising
All winners received $250, $75, or $25, depending on where they finished in the race.
Derby organizers hope to expand the event in the future with participants from across North Georgia.