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West Side News & Notes

7/4/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

H. Peter and Eileen Burg named 46th Polsky Award recipients

AKRON — The Akron Community Foundation (ACF) announced last week that H. Peter and Eileen Burg are the 46th recipients of the Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award.

Peter Burg, the late FirstEnergy Corp. chairman and CEO, will be honored posthumously, and Eileen Burg will receive the award in person at an annual awards dinner Oct. 15 at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn.

The couple was selected by a committee of past Polsky Humanitarian Award honorees, according to ACF officials. Recent recipients include retired cardiologist and author Terry Gordon, Akron Children’s Hospital President and CEO William Considine and longtime community volunteer Madeline Bozzelli.

According to ACF officials, Eileen Burg is a registered nurse and resident of Stow. She is a volunteer and philanthropist and currently serves on the Palliative Care Advisory Board at Akron Children’s and the boards of ACF, OPEN M Foundation and The University of Akron (UA) Foundation. She has chaired local fundraisers throughout the years, including the 2011 Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award Dinner, the American Heart Association’s Circle of Red and the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank’s 2008 “Harvest for Hunger” campaign, which raised enough food and funds to provide one-third of the organization’s 11.5 million meals that year, according to ACF officials.

In 2004, she started the H. Peter Burg Fund of ACF, from which she and her family have made more than $364,000 in grants to organizations such as Heart to Heart Communications, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Weathervane Community Playhouse, Boys and Girls Clubs and the Summit County Chapter of the Red Cross.

“This fund helps my kids learn more about their dad and my grandkids learn more about their grandpa,” said Burg. “It also keeps me close to Pete and the organizations he supported.”

According to ACF officials, Peter Burg died in 2004 at age 57 due to complications stemming from leukemia treatment. He was raised in Goodyear Heights and attended St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, where he and his wife met. He began his career at Ohio Edison, now FirstEnergy, in 1968 as a financial analyst while still attending UA. He rose through the ranks to become president and CEO in 1999.

Peter Burg served on many nonprofit boards and earned many awards, including UA’s Alumni Honor Award and the Dr. Frank L. Simonetti Distinguished Business Alumni Award, as well as the 2003 American Red Cross National Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year Award.

The Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award is named for the former president of Polsky’s Department Store and founding trustee of ACF. The ACF presents the award each year to the individual or couple who best exemplifies Polsky’s selfless dedication to humanitarian causes in Akron.

The ACF is seeking sponsors for the Oct. 15 award event. Sponsorships start at $2,500 and go up to an exclusive $25,000 Event Sponsor. For more information, contact Laura Fink, ACF’s director of development, at 330-436-5611.

To receive an invitation to the event, call 330-376-8522.


Volunteers needed to serve on bike trail advisory committee

NORTHWEST AKRON — Metro Parks, Serving Summit County is seeking three volunteers to participate on an advisory committee for the mountain bike trails planned for the Hardy Road Area in Hampton Hills Metro Park.

According to Metro Park officials, these committee members may assist in flagging trail sections under construction, test-riding and rating completed sections and/or making suggestions for improvement. Volunteers must have a current driver’s license and enroll in the park district’s volunteer program, which includes successfully completing a criminal background check. The three volunteers who are chosen will have to work together as a team in support of the park district’s efforts.

Individuals will be selected based on their knowledge of single-track trail construction, mountain biking experience and their ability to work with Metro Parks staff during scheduled visits.

Phase I of the project includes 3 miles of mountain bike trails and a new, small parking lot off Akron-Peninsula Road, south of Bath Road, according to Paul Wilkerson, the district’s chief of planning. In several years, the park may have more than 7 miles of mountain bike trails, he added.

Applicants may submit a letter of interest in volunteering to serve on the committee to Mark Avery, project manager, at mavery@summitmetroparks.org or mail it to: Mountain Bike Trail Committee, 975 Treaty Line Road, Akron, OH 44313.


Alumni Association established for Derby

SOUTH AKRON — The FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby has announced that an Alumni Association open to all youngsters and adults who have competed in the Derby championships at Akron’s Derby Downs during the past 75 years has been established.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said International Soap Box Derby President and CEO Joe Mazur. “The Derby has such a rich tradition, and we’ve never had an Alumni Association. Last year, past world champs were invited back for the grand opening of the Hall of Fame and Museum. That event led to the formation of the Alumni Association.”

The first All-American Soap Box Derby race was held in 1934 in Dayton, according to Derby officials. The following year, the race moved to Akron because of its central location and hilly terrain. The first race in Akron was run on Tallmadge Avenue. In 1936, Chevrolet and Akron civic leaders — including journalist John S. Knight — recognized the need for a permanent track site for the youth gravity-racing classic. That year, through the efforts of the Works Progress Administration, Derby Downs in the southeast section of Akron became a reality.

The Derby ran continuously from its inception until the onset of World War II, according to Derby officials. After a four-year hiatus, the All-American Soap Box Derby resumed in Akron in 1946, and has been held at Derby Downs every year since.

“Thousands and thousands of Soap Box Derby racers from around the world share a common bond,” added Mazur. “We’re thrilled to be able to provide an association where alumni can reminisce about their Soap Box Derby experiences with long-time friends and share experiences with competitors from other eras.”

To launch this effort, the Derby will host an Alumni Association kickoff event at Derby Downs July 26 — the evening before the race.

“Participating in the Soap Box Derby gave me the opportunity to make friends and have fun, as well as learn how to compete well and good sportsmanship, which helped me in school and on into my professional life,” said Matt Perez, of Hollywood, Fla. Perez, 29, won the 1996 Stock Car world championship, representing his hometown of North Canton. He is a financial analyst for Canon Solutions America in Boca Raton, Fla.

“I returned to Akron last summer for the 75th anniversary race and to see my winning car on display in the Hall of Fame. It was interesting to see what has evolved over the years since I raced, as well as many things that have remained the same,” Perez said. “The Alumni Association will help me stay involved with the Soap Box Derby and keep in touch the many racing friends from over the years.” 

Initial funding for the association came from the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association.

For more information on the Alumni Association, contact the International Soap Box Derby at alumni@aasbd.org.


Stephanie Kist and Maria Lindsay contributed to these reports.

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