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Soap Box Derby Hosts Third Annual Autism Day With Autism Society of Greater Akron

Photo 3Autistic Kids Co-Pilot Derby Cars at the
2014 Autism Day at Derby Downs 

The Autism Society of Greater Akron and the International Soap Box Derby will once again hold its “Autism Day” at the Derby for the third year on Saturday, September 11, from 1 – 4 p.m.  This extraordinary event is a community day for children of all ages to enjoy the benefits of having a treasure like the Derby in its hometown.

Joe Mazur, President & CEO of the Soap Box Derby, said “We’re excited that this year we are expecting a crew from Time Warner Cable’s “It Ain’t Rocket Science” to video parts of “Autism Day,” which will have a teacher explaining all about gravity cars and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) aspects of the Derby. Maggie Oliver, a teacher with the Akron Public Schools, will talk to the kids about gravity, friction, weighting, and will demonstrate how the cars work best in racing. While Mrs. Oliver will be teaching a modified STEM curriculum, we think the kids will be so excited they won’t even know their actually in a mini-class.”

A recent article in the Huffington Post reported, “the U.S. will have more than 1.2 million job openings in STEM - or science, technology, engineering and math - fields by 2018. And by 2020, the McKinsey Global Institute reports there will be a shortage of 95 million skilled workers. Microsoft and SAP are two companies that are filling this STEM talent gap by hiring individuals with autism. Why? They've discovered that these individuals possess in-demand skills in STEM fields, especially jobs that require extreme attention to detail or repetitive tasks, like quality checking software or finding anomalies in data. Remember the character made famous by Dustin Hoffman in the film, Rain Man, who had a remarkable ability to remember numerical sequences? Those same skills can be used to help companies fill critical STEM vacancies.”

Laurie Cramer, Executive Director of the Autism Society of Greater Akron, said “Anything we can do to support our children’s natural abilities is one of our goals. Learning more about the science of the Derby is just another opportunity to introduce our kids to meaningful areas of life that might help them get a job someday.  You never know what’s going to stick. Ultimately, it’s all in the thrill of the race!”

Cramer concluded, “We applaud the outstanding staff from the Derby for creating a magical day for our families. We also could not have done it without all of the volunteers. Together, everyone worked hard to create an atmosphere of fun and excitement that we will remember for a long time.  We are so fortunate to have the Derby not only as an outstanding organization in Akron, but as a community partner. A big thank you to everyone who helps makes Autism Day such a success!”


The Soap Box Derby® is an international nonprofit organization whose mission is to build knowledge and character, and to create meaningful experiences through collaboration and fair and honest competition. The Derby’s Core Values and Drivers include: Youth Education and Leadership Development; Family Engagement and Enrichment; Honesty, Integrity and Perseverance; Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Teamwork and Collaboration; Mentoring; Volunteerism; and Commitment to Community. The Derby’s two youth initiatives are the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby racing program and the STEM-based Education Program, which provides educational opportunities for K-12 youth worldwide through Soap Box Derby racing. The Derby dates back to 1934, when the first All-American race was held in Dayton, Ohio.


The Autism Society of Greater Akron is part of the national organization of the Autism Society. One of more than 100 affiliates nationwide, it works locally to implement the Autism Society’s mission of “Improving the lives of all affected by autism.” The Autism Society of Greater Akron serves Medina, Stark, Summit, Portage and Wayne counties.