Annual race is a pleasure, challenge

July 16, 2013

As a child, Tim Finnegan watched as his siblings raced soapbox derby cars every year.

Due to a developmental disability, he was never able to participate, until his father Leo Finnegan built a doublewide car that could fit two kids. With his siblings at the wheel, Tim could finally participate in the activity he watched for so long.

On July 20, the Rotary Club of Issaquah and Life Enrichment Options will put on their 16th annual Challenge Series Race, where people with disabilities can race in their own soapbox derby cars alongside their peers.

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Community Caring Award nominations due May 17

May 7, 2013

Life Enrichment Options, AtWork!, Special Olympics Issaquah and the Tavon Center invite the community to nominate volunteers who dedicates themselves to supporting those with developmental disabilities for a Community Caring Award, as part of the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce’s Community Volunteer Awards.

Awards will be presented at the 34th annual Community Awards Banquet on May 30, where Issaquah’s service clubs celebrate and honor those volunteers who are dedicated to making a difference in our community.

Deadline for nominations is May 17. Nominees need to be from the Issaquah area (within the Issaquah School District boundaries).

Submit a nomination at


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Life Enrichment Options kicks off campaign to raise $100,000

December 18, 2012

Life Enrichment Options is expanding its efforts to support those with developmental disabilities with its fundraising campaign “Let’s Have a Heart to Heart.”

The goal of the fundraiser is to collect $100,000 to purchase land for a fourth adult family home; for continued maintenance costs of three current homes; and to continue to support specialized recreational programs, educational forums and employment opportunities.

This local parent-based organization was formed more than 20 years ago to create innovative solutions to issues facing those with developmental disabilities, and to increase community awareness of people with developmental disabilities by having them included in all aspects of the community.

Contribute at

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Neighbors protest proposed firearms home business

August 28, 2012

Concerns about safety and traffic led downtown Issaquah residents to join forces to stop the city from approving a permit for a home-based firearms business.

The municipal Development Services Department is considering a proposal from Michael Marinos, a longtime Issaquah resident, to open the business in the Olde Town neighborhood south of East Sunset Way.

Marinos created Bigg Dogg Firearms to offer federally licensed firearms transfers to customers purchasing weapons online. Customers could then stop at Marinos’ home-based business to pick up the firearms.

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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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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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LEO celebrates completion of Issaquah Highlands family home

May 29, 2012

The house in the Issaquah Highlands still smells of new construction.

The smell of rustic carpentry, fresh paint and that familiar, yet comforting, new-house scent permeates the nostrils upon entry.

A sign next to the kitchen sink reads “Dreams Come True.”

Life Enrichment Options’ third family home for adults with developmental disabilities is officially completed.

The Angela House, named after one of LEO’s founding board members, Angela Dews, will be home to five people with developmental disabilities as well as a full-time caregiver.

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Life Enrichment Options plans home, fundraiser

October 11, 2011

Founded 22 years ago by the parents of children with intellectual or developmental disabilities, Issaquah’s Life Enrichment Options is expanding.

One of the organization’s founders as well as a member of its board of directors, Rose Finnegan said LEO’s third family home should be completed by December.

The group also is planning what Finnegan said is only the second fundraising event in its history.

Harvesting Hope is the name of LEO’s luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 20 at Pickering Barn. Sammamish City Council member and former host of TV’s “Evening Magazine” John Curley will host the event.

LEO’s third facility sits in the Issaquah Highlands at the corner of 25th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Logan Street.

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Life Enrichment Options hosts housing discussion

September 20, 2011

Issaquah nonprofit organization Life Enrichment Options presents a panel discussion on housing options for people with disabilities from 7-9 p.m. Sept. 29 at Tibbetts Creek Manor, 750 17th Ave. N.W. Representatives from several different housing alternatives will discuss how their settings work, and for whom. A question and answer period will follow.

Admission is free. The social time and refreshments start at 6:30 p.m.

Life Enrichment Options advocates for and works to support individuals with developmental disabilities to achieve their lifestyle goals through supportive housing, recreation, employment opportunities and community education.

Call 274-4003, email, go to or visit Life Enrichment Options (LEO) on Facebook to learn more.

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Class teaches social, sexual skills to parents

September 6, 2011

Life Enrichment Options presents an evening with Dr. Jean Edwards from 7-9 pm Sept. 14 at the King County Library Service Center, 960 Newport Way.

Edwards is a professor emeritus in the Department of Counseling and Special Education at Portland State University, where she taught for 30 years. In addition, Edwards is a private consultant who works with treatment agencies around issues of social/sexual development and child abuse for those with developmental disabilities.

The presentation is suitable for parents of children of all ages and will cover what to teach your child now to avoid dire consequences in the future.

Admission is free. Refreshments and a social are at 6:30 p.m.

Life Enrichment Options is a local nonprofit organization that advocates for and works to support individuals with developmental disabilities to achieve their lifestyle goals through supportive housing, recreation and employment opportunities, and community education.

Call 274-4003, email, go to or visit Life Enrichment Options (LEO) on Facebook.

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