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This past Saturday, we held the 1st annual Pinebox Derby Grand Prix at our Duluth store. We were raising money for CURE Childhood Cancer. It was incredible the turn out we had for this event. We really did not know what to expect, but now that we have gotten past this first event, we are even more excited about the event for next year. 10440674_776041162416453_6390387756902556584_nFirst of all, we had a FULL store. The race track which was donated by Cub Scouts Pack 420 based out of Duluth First United Methodist Church was just what we needed for this first year. A BIG thank you to Joey D’Anna for guidance and support. Having the track in the store the week leading up to the race was really what pushed this event even further. Everyone who walked down the aisle asked about it, and many decided to get involved because of it!

Which gave us the opportunity to talk about the reason why we were doing this race in the first place. 

We were at the True Value Fall Reunion in Chicago in 2013. At the pre-conference, we sat and listened to Jason Jennings, public speaker and author of “Think BIG, Act Small.

Jason said something that resonated with all of us from Howard Brothers who were in attendance. He was talking about how to embrace change and other principles of small business purpose. He talked about how small businesses should “make lots of small bets.” It wasn’t the key takeaway from that session, but for some reason it gave us a new energy, as we walked the sales floor looking through hundreds of vendor booths and their products.

Typically, we would have all walked right past the pinebox derby display from Woodcraft. That doesn’t and hasn’t been on our radar. This day, though, several of us took a step back and considered this small niche and wondered if it could be successful at Howards. We even started thinking about how cool it would be if we actually held an event at our store where our customers and their kids got involved and created pinewood cars for the race. Wouldn’t it be cool if we got our some of our key vendors to create cars… and wouldn’t it be incredible if we did it for charity.

CURE-Childhood-Cancer-logoWe ordered the display and a few months ago started to plan and look for a charity that we could come alongside and support. That organization was CURE Childhood Cancer.

CURE Childhood Cancer is dedicated to conquering childhood cancer through funding targeted research and through support of patients and their families. When you look ‘big picture’ at the amount of donations that goes to various causes, cancers, or diseases, it is hard to believe how little actually goes toward childhood cancer research and treatment. There is great need. Every “little” bit helps.

We all know folks who have been impacted by cancer and many of us know of a family who is dealing with treatment and care for their child. This has hit very close to our Howard’s family (we are Smiley for Kylie!) It made perfect sense to align with this incredible organization who is looking to the future to absolutely cure childhood cancer!

After what we thought was going to be a small turnout, we ended up having an extraordinary turnout!

We had 49 cars compete! Check out some of the craftsmanship!

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We had three divisions of racers. We had an UNDER 18 divison, an Adult Divison and a Vendor/Sponsor Division. We had 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes for speed and also for best design. (Our U18 winner will have to grow into her prize… and hopefully her brothers don’t take it from her)

As you might be able to tell from the pictures above, we had a LOT of competition for best design. Our vendors and sponsors were up to the challenge and really made it a lot of fun seeing them compete.

We need to say a special thank you to Chick-fil-A on Peachtree Industrial and Pleasant Hill. From the very beginning, they were on board to help make this event successful. They offered to donate some food so that we could sell on the day of the event, they were promoting the event in their store and through their channels, and they offered to let their cow come and be a guest judge! (He needs a name, by the way… Can we suggest Howard?)

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10489820_10152463549416768_41519399249639337_nThe cow joined Duluth Mayor, Nancy Harris, and Paula Collins with CURE to help us decide which car won for best design and creativity.

The event was a complete success. It was a family event that everyone could get involved in. It allowed for some competition, but also allowed us the opportunity to give back to our community and we ended up raising $2000 for CURE. That isn’t much, but we have a lot of high expectations for next year!

As soon as we finished the race, and before we were even able to tear down the track, we were being asked when we would do the event again. We’re gonna look at our calendar and see if another time of the year makes more sense. We may have to move the race somewhere else either in the store or to another location, but you can rest assured that we WILL have a second annual Pine Box Grand Prix!

If you’d like to give to CURE, we encourage you to do so. Find out about their mission and learn about other events that they are involved in around Atlanta. Click here to learn more about how you can help cure childhood cancer. 

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