Derby racers take a day off

Friday, July 20, 2007

Editor's note: This is the fourth of several stories about a Cape Girardeau sister and brother competing this week in the All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio. April Little is 13, and her brother, Jordan, is 9.

Watch April and Jordan Little at the Soap Box Derby


Southeast Missourian

April Little scaled a rock wall Thursday at the All-American Soap Box Derby's Family Fun Day. The event was at Howe Park outside of Akron, Ohio, and featured train rides, sports and free meals for the families of derby contestants. (BETH LITTLE Submitted photo)

AKRON, Ohio -- Jordan and April Little spent Thursday climbing rock walls and riding trains as part of the All-American Soap Box Derby's Family Fun Day. The event, staged in Howe Park outside of Akron, included a concert by a local rock band and complimentary lunch and dinner.

The U.S. Army sponsored the climbing wall, and several sergeants were on hand to assist the children while they climbed.

April and Jordan said they enjoyed climbing the rock wall, although April confessed she's somewhat afraid of heights.

"They kept telling me to grab certain holds, but when I did they would move or shift," April said. "Rock walls don't do that."

April and Jordan's mother, Beth, was glad to take a day off from moving the heavy derby racers. "My blisters finally have a chance to heal," she said. "My shins too, because they kept getting smacked by cars when we were in the pit."

The Littles said they thought their 10-hour drive from Cape Girardeau was a long haul until they met the Hefford family, who flew from New Zealand to compete.

The Heffords and the Littles ate lunch together, sharing ham and cheese and baked beans, as well as Soap Box Derby stories.

Dan Hefford, 11, of Waitakere City, New Zealand, is on his first trip to the United States. He and his mother and father flew more than 16 hours on Sunday to get to Akron in time for the opening ceremonies.

Like April and Jordan, Dan is sponsored by a local Rotary Club chapter.

Dan is racing in the Super Stock division, and his heat Saturday is directly after April's. That means that if the two win their heats, they'll meet in a heads-up match in the second round.

Neither April nor Dan is overly competitive, though, and April nodded her head in agreement when Dan talked about the upcoming race.

"It's going to be fun," Dan said. "I can't wait to have a race down the track, but it doesn't matter if I lose or win."

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