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Thank You Thursday - Former Summit County Executive Russ Pry and the County of Summit, Ohio

Russ PryFormer Summit County
Executive Russ Pry

County Of Summit Logo

In June of 2010 the International Soap Box Derby’s Board of Directors asked the County of Summit to examine its finances as a way to boost the Derby’s credibility while it attempted to raise needed cash to survive. Seven months earlier it was announced that the Derby was near financial collapse when it did not have the resources to pay down a $600,000 loan.

Spearheaded by the late County Executive Russ Pry the County agreed to help the Derby with the audit. ''They are trying to take prudent measures to show to the community if there's something wrong, they are fixing it,'' said Pry at the time. “The value of the audit is between $50,000 and $60,000.” 

In November, 2010, County government conducted a five-year audit of derby finances for free. It was a big step for the Derby because at the time the Derby's finances had been so poor — it lost over $1.1 million in the four prior years combined — that it couldn't afford to pay for audits since 2005.

“It was a critical time for the Derby,” said Derby President & CEO Joe Mazur. “With the County and Russ’ commitment to help with the audit it put the Derby in a much better position moving forward to seek financial support.” 

The County has been a champion of the Derby for decades. In 2000, a two-deck steel structure replaced the three-level bridge that had stood over the finish line since 1937. The bridge, funded by a $250,000 grant from the County, houses race control operations, judging, record-keeping and media. More recently, the County, through its Community Development Block Grant Program, provided funds to help the Derby create its STEM-Based Education Program Curriculum.

Following a series of health setbacks, including a tear in his small intestine, Pry passed away July 31, 2016 at the age of 58.

“Russ was one of the City of Akron’s greatest champions,” said current City of Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan.

“He was also a champion for the Soap Box Derby,” said Mazur. “It was a huge loss for this community. Russ was a true giant in our community and a stable force. He was a big supporter of the Derby and he will be missed in this community."

The Derby would like to say THANK YOU to former County Executive Russ Pry and the County of Summit, for helping us continue our mission of building knowledge and character, and creating meaningful experiences through collaboration and fair and honest competition.

This is the 18th installment of our weekly “Thank You Thursday” feature. Each week we will offer a heartfelt “Thank You” to a corporation, civic or community leader, volunteer, foundation or an individual who has helped us continue our mission. To view previous features please click below.

Finish Line Bridge