• Local Boy Scout builds race cars for kids with special needs

    By: Patranya Bhoolsuwan

    Updated:

    A local Boy Scout is taking on a special project to earn his way to becoming an Eagle Scout.

    Zachary Hochman, 16, is building race cars for the nonprofit Life Enrichment Options which works and advocates for people with developmental disabilities.

    For nearly 40 years, the group has organized Challenge Races through Western Washington where typically developing children are paired with those with special needs. The two then work together to race to the finish line.

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    Zachary has been volunteering as a “pilot” driver in these races since he was 9-years-old.

    “The older you got you realize how special it was for the little kids, especially special-needs kids,” said Zachary.

    Now too big to fit inside one of these gravity race cars, Zachary still volunteers at races and his latest project is building two new cars.

    This is a project he hopes will help earn him the title of Eagle Scout, Scouting's highest rank.

    “He’s a special guy. He really is,” said Leo Finnegan, whose wife was among the founders of LEO.

    Finnegan started these Challenge Races nearly 40 years ago for his own son with special needs.

    “They are the stars of the show and that's what it should be,” said Finnegan. “They don't get that opportunity to be a star."

    LEO organizes five Challenge Races a year from Spokane to Oak Harbor. The next race is in Lynnwood next month.

    Zachary said he wants to expand the races to more cities across the state - so more kids can experience the thrill of racing with the help of their friends.

    “When you go down it's not really just about winning,” said Zachary. “It's about seeing the big smile in the special-needs kids. It lights up your whole day it brings all the worries behind you”.

    As part of his Eagle Scout project , Zachary is also raising money for LEO to help build homes for adults with developmental disabilities.

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