The All American Soap Box Derby race was held in Souderton, Pennsylvania on June 4. The longstanding soap box car racing tradition began in 1941 and has continued to unite the community for about 70 years—people of all ages look forward to this exciting event each year. Local businesses often sponsor cars and offer their services and assistance free of charge in support of the special occasion that positively impacts the community.
This community spirit and collective effort helped the Telford Borough Police Department and a local fifth grade Franconia Elementary School student named Marcus participate in this year’s race. It took several hands working together to discover the cost of a pre-owned soap box car, acquire and prepare a car, find a driver, and raise awareness and funds for a worthy cause.
Back in September 2010, Sgt. Jim Minninger and members of the Telford Borough P.D. requested funding for the car cost and race fees, but budgetary cuts left their request denied. This minor setback was reconciled by a local business owner who donated a soap box car kit and arranged for another local business responsible for designing and applying the graphics to patrol vehicles to donate decals and striping for their soap box car. With the generosity and support of the community, the soap box car was covered. Now they needed a driver.
The Department decided to offer the opportunity to a local child that would not otherwise be able to pilot a soap box car by holding an essay contest. They were granted permission from the local school district to distribute fliers to third through fifth grade students announcing the search for a soap box car driver and advertising the essay question: “How would you ‘Do Your Best’ if chosen to pilot a soap box car?” The winner was eleven-year-old Marcus, whose winning essay said: “I will always follow the directions, give my best effort to create a safe and fun soap box car, and last, have fun and make new friends.” Not only did Marcus accomplish all these goals, but he finished 6th in his division in the All American race, making the Telford Borough Police Department and entire community very proud.
Not only did Sgt. Minninger and his colleagues want to take full advantage of the race as an opportunity for their officers to deepen their positive relationships with local youth and their families, but they also wanted to raise funds in support of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, and they did just that. With the help of the community and by affixing the Fund’s Rose & Shield logo to the soap box car, the Telford Borough Police Department raised awareness and $1,000 for the Memorial Fund.