Sarah Kolesar, a 16-year-old Junior at Green High School, doesn’t let any grass grow under her feet as she can usually be found racing down a hill somewhere in a Soap Box Derby event.
This was her fifth year participating in many ways with the derby program. This year, the seasoned racer received the 2019 President’s youth Volunteer Service Award. She was nominated by Doreen Thorne marketing director for the derby. She was presented with the award during the awards ceremony after the 82nd FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby’s world championships held at Derby Downs in July.
Kolesar began her race career in 2015 and has volunteered with the Soap Box derby for as long as she has been racing. She gives back between 100 to 150 hours each year to the derby helping in a variety of capacities. She often volunteers as a co-pilot, driving the double seated car in the local and national SuperKids races for special needs children. She enjoys racing with the SuperKids because it gives the kids the opportunity to experience the hill. She leads by example to other racers and potential racers, encouraging others through the derby office, her church and high school.
She represented the Akron local as Super Stock champion in the All-American race and Kolesar often competes in rallies throughout Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. She plans to continue the racing season to qualify for next year.
Over her years of racing, what stands out to Kolesar is not only the fun and excitement of the derby but, especially that the derby is focused on a family environment. Families and racers help each other out to do their best.
Sarah’s mom, Jill Kolesar, said that the derby has provided many benefits to Sarah through the years. Her leadership skills have improved with the many opportunities that the derby provides. She has gained new expertise in the areas of design, construction and physics.
“As a family, we appreciate the support that the other race families provide. You can always find someone willing to lend a hand, answer questions and offer encouragement," Jill Kolesar said.
Kolesar also is a Soap Box Derby coach for Green Intermediate School for the Gravity Games event. It is a STEM event in which schools build soap box derby cars and race them in a competition. She assisted the students at Green Intermediate to learn about the science of derby racing and helped them in building their five cars for racing in this year's competition. She said through her years with the derby, she has learned a lot about different STEM skills including aerodynamics and physics.
She frequently volunteers at the Soap Box Derby office in Akron helping with office work and preparations for events like the All-American Derby. In addition to her time spent volunteering at the Soap Box Derby, Kolesar regularly volunteers at her church, Queen of Heaven, at school as a part of the Key Club and in the community.
The champion driver raced July 16 in the Soap Box Derby Local Challenge Race racing against the other local champions from around the world. Kolesar also raced July 20 in the All-American Soap Box Derby against other local champions. She participated in the All-American Soap Box Derby as a rally champion in 2018. Each year, Kolesar said she has learned “a bunch of new things including teamwork and history.”
To learn more about the Soap Box Derby and the many events held throughout the year, visit www.soapboxderby.org.
Kolesar said the derby encourages kids to learn about and apply concepts of STEM. It promotes teamwork and leadership skills.
“I’ve made a lot of friends through the years from around the world," she said. "I look forward to having many stories to tell my school friends. The memories I have made are unforgettable and the friends you make will last a lifetime.”