• 48°

Youth wins second national soapbox derby

Hanging Rock resident also claimed title in 2009 at Super Kids Classic


Defying odds has become somewhat of a habit for 16-year-old Kyle Bolen.

When the Open Door School ninth-grader was a toddler, doctors and specialists said he would never walk or talk. This was something Barbara Albert, Kyle’s grandmother, never really took to heart.

“Kyle is very active,” Barbara said, explaining that the youth has overcome a seizure disorder and developmental delays. “He walks and talks as good as anyone.”

One of Kyle’s most recent accomplishments is becoming the 2013 Super Kids Classic Soapbox Derby National Champion, a feat he also accomplished in 2009. Kyle has earned his place in Super Kids Classic lore by being the only two-time national champion in the derby’s 11-year history.

The Lawrence County Commissioners recently recognized Kyle for his efforts. He also received a champion’s jacket, a trophy nearly as tall as he is and a ring, which he said he only wears on special occasions.

“This ring is more rare than a Super Bowl ring,” Kyle said. “The whole team gets a Super Bowl ring, but only one person gets a ring like this.”

It all started with a trip to the mailbox, Barbara said.

“We got a flyer in the mail about the Super Kids Classic and the Soapbox Derby,” she said. “He said he’d like to do it and I told him OK. That’s simply how it started.”

After winning the derby in 2009, Kyle followed that up with a top-10 finish in 2010, which was also unprecedented.

“If he keeps winning these trophies, I am going to have to add a room onto our house,” his grandmother said.

The Super Kids Classic is held in Akron, and his grandmother says it is Kyle’s favorite experience.

“He always loves going back to Akron and seeing his friends and the staff,” Albert said. “It is the highlight of his year.”

Kyle routinely competes against people from all over the country and from Canada, but this year he faced a formidable opponent from very close to home.

Megan Foltz, a third-grader at Burlington Elementary, made it to the finals of the derby.

Foltz has battled and beaten leukemia twice, undergoing a bone marrow transplant in November 2012.

The soapbox derby race at the Super Kids Classic has taken place annually since 1981, but it wasn’t until 2003 when the race became a national competition. Albert says her plan is to start a local chapter.

“Commissioner (Les) Boggs told me if I could find the cars and the sponsors, he would find us a place to race,” Albert said. “Not only would having a local chapter allow more kids to participate, it would also allow our chapter to send more local kids to the national competition.”

Guidelines prevent Kyle from participating in the race past the age of 18, but he plans to make the next two years worthwhile, and has no plans to retire from soapbox derbies once his racing days are over.

“I only have two more years to race, sadly,” he said. “After that I will probably give out the awards at the local races.”

But Kyle also has other interests to keep him busy. He said loves playing basketball, loves his cat, Periwinkle, and does not like pizza. He is also the reigning Lawrence County spelling bee champion for special needs high school students.