FirstEnergyAll-American Soap Box Derby Countdown


Four Youth Volunteers Will Receive Soap Box Derby’s Service Awards


Kolesar Sarah PhotoNihart Xander PhotoSbd Pres Award Pankoff 2019

Sbd Pres Award Waldron 2019

Four young volunteers of the Soap Box Derby program have been selected to receive the President’s Youth Volunteer Service Award, which recognizes volunteers under the age of 21 who have made a positive impact on the Soap Box Derby through their leadership on the local, regional or national level.

The 2019 recipients are Sarah Kolesar of Green, Ohio; Xander Nihart of Utica, Ohio; Allison Pankoff of Parker, Colo., and Abigail Waldron Lloyd of Roanoke, Va.

“These 2019 honorees have been dedicated volunteers in their home communities and states, and have great passion for and commitment to the Soap Box Derby program,” said Mark Gerberich, president and chief executive officer of International Soap Box Derby. “They all are veteran racers who are giving back to the Soap Box Derby through mentoring other young boys and girls and working to increase awareness of and participation in our youth racing program.”

• Kolesar, 16, started competing in Soap Box Derby events in 2015, and qualified for the 2018 FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby as a Rally champion. She will represent the Akron local as Super Stock champion in July’s All-American race. She also competes in rallies throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Since 2015, Kolesar has volunteered as a co-pilot in local and national SuperKids races for special needs children. She also encourages other racers, volunteers in the Soap Box Derby headquarters office at Derby Downs, as well as for her church and at Green High School where she will be a junior this fall.

• Nihart, 18, started racing in 2015, as part of the Soap Box Derby’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education program in Columbus, Ohio, He competed in the 2018 FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby as a Super Stock rally champion and will return this year as a Masters rally racer. He serves on the Columbus local Derby organization’s board of directors and volunteers in Columbus, Lancaster and in Akron to help set up the track equipment and by live streaming the races. Nihart also is a co-pilot for SuperKids races. He graduated this spring from Ohio Connections Academy and will begin studying machinery operations in August at Knox County Career Center in Mount Vernon.

• Pankoff, 19, started racing in 2008 and has competed in the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby six times: as the local champion in both the Stock and Super Stock division in Littleton, Colo., as local Masters division champ in Colorado Springs, and as a rally champion three times. Pankoff was the 2018 world champion in the Rally Masters competition. Since 2012, she has volunteered by sharing her Soap Box Derby experiences to increase awareness of the program and to encourage other racers. She became a member of the All-American’s A-team technical support group earlier this year. Pankoff also volunteers for Denver Parks and Recreation programs, 4-H and Girl Scouts. She is a junior at Colorado State University, studying animal science and agricultural business.

• Waldron Lloyd, 20, helps build awareness in the Soap Box Derby by telling her story at mall shows and other venues. She has been volunteering since 2011, helping locally to teach driving skills to younger racers and how to enjoy participating in the Soap Box Derby. Since 2015, she also volunteers for the All-American activities in Akron. Waldron Lloyd has competed in the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby seven times: as both a local Super Stock and Masters champion and as a Rally champion five times. She will return in 2019, as a Masters division rally contestant. She is studying accounting at Virginia Western Community College.

The youth awards will be presented during the awards ceremony after the 82nd FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby’s world championships in Akron on July 20.