LAYTON -- Princess Power won the day at PARC's fifth annual Pallet Grand Prix.
The theme of this year's race was "Hero Within" and Princess Power's car, inspired by Cinderella's coach, beat Captain Clean, the Captain America-inspired car from Brady Industries, to win first place.
Chad Miller, marketing manager for Pioneer Adult Rehabilitation Center, said the event is meant to bring awareness to the abilities of PARC's clients. "It's a celebration in order to bring the community partners together with the clients and create awareness for the abilities of those with disabilities," Miller said.
Paul Waite, board member for the PARC Community Partnership Foundation, elaborated on PARC's mission. "Our mission is to help adults with significant disabilities find employment and become contributing members of society. It helps them, it helps the businesses they work for, and it's a great program. What could be better than to help people with disabilities become contributing members of society? The proceeds from the Pallet Grand Prix go right back into PARC."
PARC clients, staff members and community partners also succeeded in their mission to have a great time at the annual pallet race. Miller said PARC's clients look forward to the Pallet Grand Prix all year long, and there isn't a week that goes by that someone doesn't ask him about racing in the upcoming event.
"They look forward to it. It's like Christmas for them," Miller said.
Mark Larsen, general manager of the Salt Lake branch of Brady Industries, a janitorial supply company, and pusher of the Captain Clean cart, teamed up with PARC client Ryan Knight for the second year in a row.
"We actually had Ryan last year, so he's a repeat performer for us. But, it's fun; just a great event and we really enjoy it," Larsen said.
Steve Gibson, another Brady Industries employee, said the company improved on last year's cart design and the lighter cart took them to second place in this year's race.
"Our racer is the Captain Clean cart, based on Captain America. It was a collaboration of all the Brady employees. We had a toilet last year and we had too much weight. So, we streamlined it, added a little bit of bling, and hopefully we'll win the race."
Sadly, Gibson's hopes were dashed by the undefeated, 35-pound cart from Princess Power. Becky Rogers, one of the PARC moms behind Princess Power, said she decided to build a cart when her daughter and PARC client, Robin, came in last place the year before. She teamed up with Pat Gulbranson, mother of PARC client Melinda Gulbranson, to decorate a pallet cart they had built by Fred Buchler.
Rogers and Gulbranson even designed and sold T-shirts for their team. "It started out with just family shirts and we ended up selling 89 shirts. So next year we ended up with people that want to be sponsors," Rogers said.
Melinda Gulbranson was the winning driver in the final race of the day. When asked who her favorite princess was, she said, quite confidently, "Me."
After beating the Captain Clean cart, princesses Melinda Gulbranson and Robin Rogers haughtily challenged the Weber State team to a race and Princess Power remained undefeated.
The event was not without a little bit of NASCAR-inspired excitement when the cart made by Clearfield High School's Student Council members fell apart during a race. The driver, Jeffrey Weston, wasn't injured.
"It was scary, but it was fun," Weston said after he and his two pushers from Clearfield High carried their broken cart over the finish line.
Derek Phelps, 17 and student body officer of recognition at Clearfield High, helped to engineer the cart and admitted that lack of preparation may have played a part in his cart's engineering issues. When asked what he would do differently next year he said, "Maybe a little more preparation and probably a lot more screws."
Weber State University students Trevor Annis and Kyle Syme borrowed a plane-shaped cart made by ATK and used in last year's race. Their driver, Peter Rocha, said he didn't mind his borrowed vehicle.
"I'll take anything to win the race for PARC," Rocha said.
Rocha, Annis and Syme won the school division of the race.
Annis encouraged the community to get involved in next year's Pallet Grand Prix.
"I think it's just a great opportunity for the community to get involved and have a good time. Come out and support next year's event, it's a blast. I think there are a lot of organizations in the community that people aren't aware of, and there's a lot of good that organizations like this can do, but we really need the community behind it so they can have a bigger footprint in our area," Annis said.
Miller said PARC is always looking for sponsors, racers and volunteers and gave instructions for anyone looking to participate in next year's event. "Sign up on our website at www.parc-ut.org or by calling us at 801-402-0950."
Janice Botts, a PARC client for 25 years, enjoyed the race and invited everyone out to PARC's 5K in September. "We're doing a 5K at 9 a.m. on Sept. 28 at West Point Junior High. So tell people to come."