Sarah Kolczak was always fascinated with the 500 Festival Princesses.
“I grew up attending the Indy 500 with my parents, and I would always beg my parents to get to the track early enough to see the Princesses do their lap around the track,” she said. “I was in awe of these women, and I knew in the back of my head that it was always something I wanted to do. My first big exposure to the Princess Program was in fifth grade.
“My teacher’s daughter was a 500 Festival Princess and came to our classroom for outreach, and that was the first time I realized that the Princess Program meant so much more than a lap around the track on race day.”
Fast-forward to 2020, and Kolczak has achieved her goal of becoming a 500 Festival Princess. The 2017 Westfield High School graduate, who will be a senior at Purdue in August, said she met a few girls in college who pushed her to apply.
“After researching the program more and seeing how the 500 Festival invested not only in the Indianapolis community but also in raising up and developing future female leaders, I knew the program was something I wanted to invest my heart and soul in,” she said. “I was so nervous for my interviews, but I entered the entire process with passion and authenticity, which carried me to where I’m at today in a group of 33 incredible women.”
The Indy 500 and surrounding events were postponed in May due to the coronavirus pandemic. The race has been rescheduled for Aug. 23, and the IPL 500 Festival Parade is scheduled for Aug. 22. Other 500 Festival events include Kids Day and Rookie Run (Aug. 8), Volunteer Appreciation Day (Aug. 15) and Off the Grid (Aug. 21).
“I’m looking forward to reconnecting with the other 32 Princesses,” Kolczak said. “We’ve supported each other so much, personally ,and through our virtual outreaches during this time, so I know we will have an even bigger impact when we are all together again. During this time, everyone has craved community, so I’m excited that I get to be a small part in facilitating and celebrating that community through 500 Festival events in August.”
Kolczak said the women have been resilient in giving back to their communities during the pandemic.
“I’ve written pen pal letters to nursing homes, recorded videos for Wish Kids and so much more for my fellow Princesses’ outreaches, personally,” Kolczak said. “I worked with a kid’s gym in Lafayette to create a race-themed fitness class, and I’m planning on working with my local hot yoga studio to offer a donation class benefitting our local ACLU chapter.”
Kolczak is studying public relations and strategic communication.
“In the future, I’d love to apply this knowledge in an organizational or consultant setting in the health and wellness sphere, hopefully surrounding fitness, body image and mental health,” she said. “I have many different passions, but my dream job would be a motivational speaker, life coach or author. I am a very ambitious person, so I think I’ll start with public relations and see what happens from there.”