October 4, 2004
Methodist Rehabilitation Center's Downhill Derby to benefit the Andrew Jackson Council of Boy Scouts
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Gentlemen, start your downhill descent.
That will be the call to action on Nov. 12 and 13, as local gear-heads get a taste of gravity car racing at Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s Downhill Derby in Jackson.
A fund-raiser for the Andrew Jackson Council of Boy Scouts of America, the event features face-offs between vehicles powered solely by downhill momentum and boyish enthusiasm.
Most of the cars will be homespun speedsters built by the Scouts out of two-by-fours and lawnmower tires and piloted by the boys themselves. But two divisions will give spectators a glimpse at more glitzy versions of the downhill racers.
High school competitors will show off their hand-crafted cruisers during a single-elimination competition that begins at 5 p.m. on Friday. Scouts will race from 8:30 a.m. until late afternoon on Saturday, taking a break at 10:30 a.m. to watch local businesses try to beat each other to the bottom line in Methodist’s first-ever Corporate Challenge. The high-tech, corporate-sponsored cars will all share the same sleek design, but will be personalized with bright colors and company logos.
All races will take place on the sloping terrain of the official track—the stretch of Riverside Drive between North State Street and Peachtree Drive.
Families also can tour nearby Safety Town, a Methodist-sponsored village which is home to Sammy Safety, a certified safety superhero, and Safety Saurus, the injury prevention dinosaur who survived extinction by playing it safe.
The town will feature the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s Rover roll-over simulator, Maley Swim School’s water safety program and CPR demonstrations, the Jackson Police Department’s fingerprinting and Stranger Danger programs and a Think First bike safety program.
Visitors to Safety Town will receive balloons, Sammy Safety tattoos and cups and lots of injury prevention information presented in an entertaining way. Boy Scouts and volunteers will man booths selling hamburgers, hot dogs, soft drinks and other refreshments all day Saturday as Downhill Derby racers and onlookers hit Riverside Drive.
“We are proud to be associated with Boy Scouts and with this kind of wholesome event,” said Mark Adams, president and CEO of Methodist. “It’s always a plus when we can present our injury-prevention message in a setting that features engaging activities for the whole family.”
Last year’s inaugural Downhill Derby drew a field of more than 200 cars and a crowd of about 1,000. Organizers say they expect more than 2,000 spectators and competitors to attend the 2004 race.
Methodist Rehabilitation Center hopes to raise $25,000 from the Downhill Derby. The money will benefit the Andrew Jackson Council of Boy Scouts of America, which served more than 23,000 youth in 2003 through programs such as career education in the schools, career mentoring, urban camping scholarships and outreach scout units, along with many others.
“We count on the community to support our many programs and we’ve never been disappointed,” said Andrew Jackson Council district director John Robinson. “I guess it’s because so many business leaders have fond memories of their own Scouting experiences and want to ensure that another generation of boys gets to be a part of this enriching program.”
The entry fee for high school students is $10 by Oct. 29 or $15 on race day. The Boy Scout entry fee is $20 before Nov. 5 or $25 on race day. Registration forms and more information about the Downhill Derby can be found at methodistonline.org. Anyone interested in a corporate sponsorship should call 601-364-3451. The public is invited to attend the two-day event—there is no entry fee for spectators.