Veterans and Scouts enjoy Pinewood Derby

Feb. 27, 2019  PLYMOUTH EAGLE.

Plymouth Michigan News


Julie Brown

Staff Writer

Military veterans James Kendall of Plymouth Township and Al Sneath of Canton enjoyed some old-fashioned fun at the Plymouth Veterans of War Post 6695 on a recent Saturday.

Sneath and Kendall were among about a half dozen veterans who joined Cub Scouts in racing cars indoors at the post.

“Oh, it’s great,” said Kendall, who completed his nursing training in the Army and works at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Ann Arbor. “I actually won, for once.”

The post on Mill Street, which also is home to the Vietnam Veterans of America Plymouth-Canton Chapter 528, was filled on Saturday, Feb. 9, for a Boy Scout car race.

“It goes back awhile,” said Cubmaster Krista McKinley, LtCol, USMC (Ret) 21-year veteran and member of the Mayflower VFW Post. McKinley, a Plymouth Township resident, leads Cub Scout Pack 293. Most of the boys come from Farrand and Bird elementary schools.

John Maxworthy of Plymouth Township noted Pinewood Derby competition dates to the early 1950s, adding, “We’ve only been involved as long as our sons have. I have a third- and a fourth-grader. As long as they’ve been Cubs we’ve been building and racing them.”

The indoor track, set at an angle, was the cheering crowd’s focus as the miniature cars took turns in heats.

“I was a Cub Scout. We used to race on a wooden track. Now everything’s electronic. But the cars are exactly the same, they haven’t changed,” commented Maxworthy.

The military veterans also garnered trophies and certificates. McKinley, spokesperson for the veterans post, emcees veterans’ remembrance events, including Memorial Day.

“We need to start connecting this younger generation with that older generation,” the Cub Scout mom noted. She said some students don’t enjoy history class but added, “history is just a bunch of stories. They (veterans) seem very happy to make those connections. Now we’re just trying to expand it,” she added of those cross-age relationships.

McKinley and her husband, also a veteran, told veterans there, “You are a living history book.” McKinley told parents who see a veteran of any war to “encourage your kid to go up and say, ‘Thank you for your service.’ Veterans have amazing stories.”

Veterans also often are willing to share their stories, she added.

James Kendall, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was the veteran winner that day and recalled being a member of the Cub Scouts. Al Sneath, who was in the Cub Scouts, noted his military service was duty “back in the States” as a firefighter stationed in Savannah, GA. His dad, he said, worked with Scouts.

“We did crash and rescue. I did helicopters in Vietnam,” said Sneath. His aim Feb. 9 for the young people is “Respect for the veterans,” with Kendall adding, “This isn’t just for us. We’re here to help other veterans.”

The military men did some good-natured ribbing that morning among service branches. The youth race winners were Adam Stickler who took first place, Pete Mascaro who came in second place and Charlie Lievense who won third place honors.

Krista McKinley noted that the top three times were very close. “We’re talking Olympic close,” she said.

John Maxworthy agreed that the traditional Pinewood Derby races have stood the test of time: “A lot of the dads bring their cars, race their sons, not official.”

There were 64 Cub Scouts in first through fifth grades that day at the VFW. Parents and volunteers said they appreciate the pack getting free meeting space from the VFW post.

Andrew Lievense had the job of releasing cars uniformly on the track as the crowd cheered and applauded.

“They learn how to win properly and lose with grace. They learn to complete something from start to finish,” as well as developing engineering and craftsmanship skills,” McKinley said.

McKinley had some help with a larger soapbox derby car owned by Steve Radachy. She was gauging parent interest in such a race as a pack, and seeking volunteers.

“It’s a fast car too,” Radachy said, and was previously raced by his son and grandson. Kendall, as the veteran winner, raced the Cubs. McKinley shared kind words, as did others with the Cub Scout Motto of “Do Your Best” on their t-shirts.

“I am very proud of all the boys. You learn how to lose with dignity. If you’re disappointed, that’s OK. You should be proud of the work you did,” McKinley said.


Plymouth Voice.

Photos: Brian Long

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