Off the Press

July 31, 2012

Signature gatherers need a lesson in manners

Kathleen Merrill
Press managing editor

I’ll be glad when all the recent initiatives and various other causes are wrapped up for this cycle and we don’t see signature gatherers again for a while.

To be clear, I am not against any specific cause here. And I’m never against people and their passions. In fact, I think many people could become more passionate about causes that need help.

And I’m not necessarily against signature gatherers. I just think some of them need to learn some manners.

I don’t know what it is these days about manners in general, but it seems the practice of good manners is declining.

But back to the signature gatherers. I had one recently who wouldn’t take no for an answer. Sometimes on my days off, I just like to be left alone, especially when ticking through a list of errands so I can get to enjoying my life.

On a recent trip to Target, I was in a hurry to get home and wash and wax my car, so I could get the T-tops out and enjoy some sun. This woman outside the store hollered at me and when I tried to wave her off yelled, “But are you registered to vote? What are you going to do about blah, blah, blah?”

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Gravity — and team spirit — power Rotary racers’ soapbox derby cars

July 17, 2012

Cian O’Farrell, 11, and driver John Morse, 10, ride the gravity car by sponsor Fred Meyer to a checkered flag waved by the Rotary Club of Issaquah’s Fred Nystrom. By Greg Farrar

A day filled with happiness for children was the goal of the 15th annual Issaquah Rotary Challenge Day Race on July 14.

Viewers lined Second Avenue Southeast to watch — standing or sitting on the bleachers halfway down the block.

The event pairs up children with disabilities and volunteer children drivers to race soapbox derby cars. Gravity pulls the cars down the hill. The vehicles reach speeds of 17 mph.

About 50 children with disabilities got to race three times with rotating drivers and cars. Liberty High School cheerleaders greeted the racers at the finish line before cars were towed back to the starting line.

“It’s a great event for kids to experience a fast, free ride down Second Avenue,” Rotary Club member Russell Joe said. “For some of the riders, it’s the first time they’ve been in a car that’s running on its own without mom or dad.”

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Issaquah Rotary Challenge Day Race / July 14, 2012

July 17, 2012

Rotary Club soapbox derby race celebrates 15th anniversary

July 10, 2012

Drivers, co-drivers, parents, Rotary Club of Issaquah members, Issaquah High School wrestlers, Liberty High School cheerleaders and student volunteers pose for a group photo at the 2011 Challenge Day gravity car races. By Greg Farrar

The 15th annual Issaquah Rotary Challenge Day Race, an event that pairs children with disabilities with a young driver of a sleek soapbox derby car, is set for July 14.

The event allows participants to experience the fun of a derby race down Second Avenue past the community center in downtown Issaquah.

For the race, the pair of youngsters climb into the seat of a sleek soapbox derby car. With the slam of the starting gate, the car’s wheels begin to turn. As gravity kicks in, the two-seater makes its way along the street.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with racing from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Other activities include adaptive cycling for children and adults with disabilities and lunch hosted by the Rotary Club of Issaquah for event participants and volunteers.

The event was inspired by the vision of longtime Issaquah resident and retired Puget Sound Energy executive Leo Finnegan, the father of an adult son with a disability.

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Rotary Challenge Day Race / July 16, 2011

July 27, 2011

Challenge Day Race is big fun for special-needs children

July 12, 2011

On July 16, the Rotary Club of Issaquah will host the 14th annual Issaquah Rotary Challenge Day Race. The event allows participants with mental and physical disabilities to experience the fun of a soapbox derby race.

“It’s great to see these special-needs kids having fun,” said Leo Finnegan, creator of the Challenge Day Race. “Everybody feels really good about what happens at the races.”

Excitement builds as teams of two climb into their soapbox cars. In the driver’s side seat sits an able-bodied youngster with the special-needs youngster riding shotgun.

When the starting gate hits the ground gravity takes over, causing the streamlined soapbox cars to roll down the hill. Some cars have reached speeds as high as 17 mph.

Each special-needs child will get three rides down the hill.

“The pre-selected driver’s seat is first offered up to siblings of the special-needs kids and family members of Rotary volunteers,” Finnegan said.

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Outdoors for All offers opportunities for disabled adventurers

July 2, 2011

Outdoors for All participant Laszlo Jajczay paddles with two volunteers at Green Lake Park in Seattle. The nonprofit organization invites volunteers to help participants throughout the summer. By Ed Bronsdon

The world of Susan Camicia, an avid Issaquah bicyclist and skier, turned upside down on June 19, 2006.

She had registered for a triathlon and was cycling on Mercer Island during a training session. As she neared the Mercer Island Park & Ride, some fence work threw her off guard and she ran into a pole, toppled over the handlebars of her bike and broke her neck.

In an instant, Camicia essentially became a quadriplegic, except for limited use of her hands.

“People always think that they work, but I have no strength in them at all,” she said. “If someone hands me a cup of coffee, it’s going to fall on the ground.”

She has learned to use both hands when picking up a cup of joe at her favorite coffee cafes. With such limited mobility, she worried that a sedentary life would be her default fate, until her recreational therapist recommended she try the Outdoors for All Foundation.

“It’s a great organization,” she said. “It has great volunteers.”

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50 years and counting, couple celebrates milestone

February 15, 2011

Finnegans celebrate golden anniversary, share a lifetime of tales

Leo and Rose Finnegan spoil their black Lab, Murphy, as they retell stories about their 50-year marriage and how they raised five children. Contributed

After spending 50 years together, raising five children and helping Issaquah’s handicapped adult community, Leo and Rose Finnegan have a lifetime of stories to share.

The two grew up in Montana and attended grade school together, but it was not until they crossed paths at a funeral that romantic sparks flew.

The two had already moved into early adulthood, with Rose earning her nursing degree and Leo studying engineering at Gonzaga University and the University of Notre Dame.

Leo’s grandmother passed away in summer 1960, and Rose’s mother, who knew the family, took Rose with her to the wake.

“For some reason, we just clicked,” Rose said. “We had an awful lot in common. We felt like we knew each other very well.”

By that summer, Leo proposed and they married Jan. 28, 1961.

“It was probably my grandmother’s doing,” Leo said.

The young couple moved frequently in their early years, from Colorado to Idaho to Michigan to Montana, and finally to Issaquah.

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Powered by gravity, steered by fun

July 20, 2010

More than 50 special-needs children suit up for 13th annual Rotary challenge race

By Greg Farrar Mary Hartung (left), co-driver, waves at the crowds and Caitlin Gaylord, driver, prepares to pilot their gravity car

On July 17, Second Avenue Southeast was transformed into a racetrack as soapbox cars full of grinning children whooshed down the hill in lieu of the usual streams of weekend traffic.

The road was closed off for the 13th annual Issaquah Rotary Challenge Gravity Car Race.

More than 50 special-needs children of all ages came to participate in the race as co-drivers. Each was accompanied by a driver, one- or two-dozen children ages 11-13 who were trained to operate the cars earlier in the day. Read more

Downtown street closes Saturday for soapbox derby

July 16, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. July 16, 2010

Plan ahead for a street closure in downtown Issaquah on Saturday.

Police plan to close Second Avenue Southeast from Southeast Andrews Street to Southeast Darst Street, as Issaquah Rotary Club members host the 13th annual Issaquah Rotary Challenge Gravity Car Race from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Southeast Donnelly Lane, a residential street stemming from Second Avenue Southeast, will be accessible during the closure.

The annual race allows disabled children get the feel of soapbox derby action.

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