By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
You hear the word derby and you may think of kids in soap box cars racing down a steep hill. But for Sunday’s Baby Derby at Applewood’s Pay Less Super Market, helmets were replaced by diapers as tiny humans crawled their way to victory. About 75 spectators came to watch 11 babies, ages 12 months and under, race each other on hands and knees on a carpeted racetrack laid out in the back of the store. The Baby Derby is a part of Anderson’s 26th Little 500 Festival.
“Where else can you see so much cuteness under one roof?” said Tabitha Kemp, whose daughter Mystery, 1, participated.
Brother Matthew, 5, served as Mystery’s coach and said he used a Woody doll from “Toy Story” to get her attention.
She’d gotten plenty of practice beforehand chasing him down at home.
While the babies won’t remember the race, Tabitha said, it’s a good way to get people together for a great fundraiser.
All proceeds go to the Gateway Association for classroom materials and teacher training. Executive Director Sara Krumme said the Child Development Center in Anderson works to build friendships and school readiness skills for children before they even enter school, and serves kids up to 6 years of age during the school year.
About 30 percent of the children Gateway serves have special needs, she added, and the center works to keep the children in the same learning environment.
“The kids see a difference, but it doesn’t matter to them,” Krumme said.
When the children go out into the community and see people with differences, she said, they’re not afraid to interact with them.
Store manager Sandy Bahney said the Baby Derby keeps up tradition while supporting a cause that is “near and dear to all our hearts” as some of the store’s employees have children in Gateway.
Pay Less employee Donnie Horseman said he was fortunate to have healthy children, but that he doesn’t know what the future holds for his grandchildren and that he believes “every kid deserves a chance to grow up and have the best” options available to them. He works third shift but helps put the event together.
It was baby Carmon Hodson, 10 months old, who took home the first-place trophy, along with a $100 Pay Less gift card for mom Janet Carl.
Carl was excited about Carmon’s “first event, first trophy” and said she’ll be sharing Carmon’s victory story with her through photos and the trophy when she’s older.
Aunt JoAnna Mullins said baby derby is a family tradition and that Carmon is the family’s first first-placer.
Lindsay Saunders was at a rummage sale Saturday when she got a flier about the Baby Derby and decided to bring her daughter Annie, 1.
“It sounded like fun,” she said. “She’s crawling a lot.”
Though, Annie “freaked out a bit” once she was actually in the race.
She wasn’t the only one, however. Some of the babies went straight from one family member across the racing carpet to the next while it took a lot of goading from parents for others and a few didn’t make it down the lane at all.
It was just fun watching the little ones go, Krumme said.
“You can’t just root for one (baby),” she said, “you root for all of them.”
Find Dani Palmer on Facebook and @DaniPalmer_THB on Twitter, or call 640-4847.
The winners of Sunday’s Baby Derby