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Sammamish Boy Scout puts the pedal to the metal on his passion for helping kids with special needs

His service project ensures kids with special needs can enjoy the thrill of downhill racing

SAMMAMISH, Wash. — Zachary Hochman's love of gravity cars began when he was 9 years old. He began to volunteer with Life Enrichment Options (L.E.O.), a charity which puts on annual events named Challenge Races. Kids with physical and mental disabilities get to pilot gravity cars downhill.

Kids are seated two to a vehicle, and when Zachary, a high school sophomore, outgrew the small cars two years ago, he wasn't ready to let it go.

Credit: KING 5
Hochman (L) trains children with disabilities in piloting the gravity cars to get them ready for racing.

"That's when I really took on the role of helping organize the event," said Zachary. 

Leo Finnegan, a board member of L.E.O., created the first Challenge Race in 1983 so his son with special needs could experience the joy of racing. Leo is still running the races, but with help from volunteers like Zachary. 

"It's all about bonding, it's all about having fun," said Zachary. "Everyone is a winner, it's not who gets to the bottom first, it's who has the most fun getting to the bottom."

Over the years, Hochman's involvement with L.E.O. developed into something more.

"Helping special needs kids is my passion," said Hochman. "I don't plan to stop anytime soon."

When it became time for Hochman to work towards becoming an Eagle Scout, his time racing sparked an idea for his service project. He was able to build two new gravity cars for the Challenge Races to ensure kids in the future would have the opportunity to race.

Credit: KING 5
One of the gravity cars that Zachary Hochman has built for Life Enrichment Options' Challenge Races.

You can see the Challenge Races and the gravity cars built by Zachary Hochman on Saturday, July 27th in Issaquah at 9:00 AM. 

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