Rebuilding Together’s Construction Derby raises funds to help with home repairs. 

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Rebuilding Together OKC’s Construction Derby slated for Sunday is a soapbox derby on steroids supporting a great cause, and it’s free to attend.

It’s the 12th annual derby, and proceeds benefit Rebuilding Together OKC, a charity that works to ensure that the homes of low-income homeowners age 55 and older are warm, safe and dry. The eight-person staff oversees the refurbishment of more than 300 homes each year, and volunteers do most of the work. This year’s derby will raise more than $150,000 and will enable the organization to renovate approximately 500 homes.

“We install a lot of new roofs, repair plumbing, achieve accessibility, install grab bars and replace bathtubs with walk-in showers,” said Executive Director Mike Edmison. “For every dollar we receive, we are able to do three dollars worth of work … because repairs are done almost entirely by volunteers.”

The Construction Derby will be held in downtown OKC on NW  Fifth Street between Walker and Shartel Avenues. Inside that zone will be amateur and professional soapbox derby-style races, games, food trucks, a beer garden, face painting, clowns, a petting zoo and crafts. All activities are free.

Winona Simmons is a Rebuilding Together volunteer and an 11-year veteran derby racer. When her racing career began, she was a staff member at Tinker Air Force Base.

“[My first team] was all women,” she said. “It wasn’t a great car, but we had a great time.”

Simmons later incorporated men, including her son-in-law, into her team.

“[He] likes to tell people that he’s going to push his mother-in-law down a hill this weekend,” she said.

Cars can reach speeds of 27 miles per hour and come in all shapes, some with outrageous and inventive modifications.

The vehicles must be constructed of materials commonly used in home repairs. There will be two heats starting at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., and hundreds of people are expected to line the course.

“The derby is our biggest fundraising event of the year,” Edmison said. “Race teams come from surrounding states, and lots of the teams take racing pretty seriously. It’s very competitive.”

Rebuilding Together OKC generates its revenue from the race through entry fees and sponsorships, which enables the organization to keep the derby free to the public.

Visit rebuildingtogetherokc.org or call 607-0464 to apply for home repairs or to become a volunteer. Those inquiring about home improvements must meet certain geographic and economic criteria and must be unable to complete the repairs themselves.

Print headline: Speed racers, Rebuilding Together’s Construction Derby raises funds to help with home repairs.

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