ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County bikers are hoping for good weather this weekend — and the forecast Thursday afternoon called for sunny skies.
This Saturday, Ol Skool Tribe Riding Club is hosting its fifth annual Autism Ride, with funds going toward the purchase of playground equipment for Pence Place, a group home for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The home, a program of Monarch, currently serves nine children ages 2-18 with a range of disabilities, including autism, blindness and Down syndrome, according to Senior Director of Philanthropy Laurie Weaver.
Although it was established years ago, Pence Place has been a Monarch site since 2010, and it is one of 11 sites in Richmond County.
Based in Albemarle (Stanly County), Monarch has 144 sites in more than 40 counties across North Carolina, providing services to children and adults with disabilities, mental illness and substance abuse issues.
“We are very grateful for their support,” Weaver said of Ol Skool’s decision to make Pence Place this year’s beneficiary. “They’re dedicated to children’s causes in that area and they’ve been really great to work with.”
Weaver said a mixture of traditional and adaptive playground equipment — based on the needs of the children living at Pence Place — will be purchased with the proceeds.
Ol Skool President Gary Holt spoke highly of the staff at the home, saying, “It’s more than a job — it’s their life.”
Funds from the Autsim Ride used to go to Cordova School, until the Richmond County Board of Education voted to convert it to a middle school to replace Rohanen Middle. Last year, proceeds went to Sandhills Children’s Center.
In the previous four years, Holt estimated the club had raised around $25,000 in the annual ride, adding that sometimes additional money comes in after the event.
“Everything we raise for any ride … every penny goes to the recipient,” he said.
Aside from Ol Skool, Holt said members of several other clubs — Steel Wheels, Carolina’s Finest, Playaz Elite, Ghost Riders and Combat Vets — have indicated they will head out on the highway Saturday.
Kickstands go up at 1 p.m. at the Rockingham VFW post on Caroline Street and the bikers will ride up to Town Creek Indian Mound in Montgomery County and then back to the VFW.
“The VFW has been so gracious to help us,” Holt said.
Ride fees include meal tickets and door prize tickets. There will also be an auction.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 or [email protected]