Seven years ago, Karen Schmitt of Bellbrook and seven of her neighbors put together a plan to make their annual block parties more exciting and fun.
“We all played cards together,” Schmitt said. “And we saw a video of Big Wheel racing in San Francisco, and we said ‘We ought to do that.’ ”
It was in the summer of 2008 when the neighbors grabbed their children’s Big Wheel ride on vehicles and decided to race down a hill outside their homes. And every year since, on the first Saturday in August, the Kable’s Mill neighborhood in Bellbrook has hosted this fun, creative and silly race that involves not only Big Wheels but also homemade vehicles made from items people have in the garages.
“We started with 38 people racing, all members of the original eight families,” Schmitt said. “The first year we didn’t block off the street, and our neighbors saw it and were all interested.”
Entrants are invited to dress up in costumes and participate in the Big Wheel and homemade vehicle races. And the event has grown each year with more people participating. “It became so popular that we decided to have an entry fee and sell T-shirts,” Schmitt said.
The group began choosing different charities and needy families, all in Bellbrook/Sugarcreek, to which they would donate the proceeds. In 2009 the race brought in $400, which was donated to the high school to help with expenses for the new stadium. For 2014, the neighborhood will be donating all proceeds to Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Education Scholarship Fund in Terry Johnson’s name. So far, the proceeds exceed $3,300, the largest amount raised yet.
“Terry supported numerous high school teams and sponsored athletes by paying their sports fees,” Schmitt said. Johnson passed away earlier this summer due to injuries he sustained in a fall from the Bellbrook High School auditorium stage.
Entry fees are $10 per adult and children race free. The top three racers for the day are awarded trophies. According to Schmitt, the only requirement is that all vehicles must be self-powered with no motors. The 2014 event had 121 total racers and Schmitt said the costumes and ride vehicles were “once again very creative and entertaining.”
“Anything goes when people are building their own vehicle,” Schmitt said. “We don’t want people racing down the hill on bicycles but many people take bicycles a part and modify them.”
Schmitt said during this year’s event, held on Aug. 2, they were surprised by a National Guard flyover. “It was a guard exercise that was patriotic and spectacular!” she said.
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