ROCKINGHAM — Buddy Roe’s Bike Ride for Richmond County Special Olympics, now in its ninth year, will have special significance this year following the passing of its namesake in January.
William “Buddy” Roebuck, owner of Buddy Roe’s bar on Billy Covington Road, started the ride in 2010 as a way to support his niece, Elizabeth Horner, who competed in the Richmond County Special Olympics as a child but decided that year to compete again as an adult.
“It meant a lot,” Horner said of her uncle’s support. “He just wanted to help out … To me he was a sweet guy and I miss him a lot and I wish he was still here.”
Horner will compete in track and field at the Spring Games on May 8.
Sarah Thompson, coordinator for the ride and former employee of Buddy Roe’s, said Buddy was a “stubborn old mule” but “had a heart of gold.”
“He would give the shirt off his back to anyone,” she said, adding that he was a “true biker at heart,” riding his motorcycle every day weather permitted until his health began to worsen.
Theressa Smith, coordinator for the Special Olympics for the last two years, said Roebuck was a “great supporter” of the games.
Thompson said the ride has never had less than 60 participants in nine years, and she expects it to have a strong showing this year. Now a nurse, Thompson said she has kept the ride going, not for money or recognition, but for the people who benefit from it.
“I don’t care about the recognition, I do it because I love the hugs and the smiles,” she said.
The ride will start Saturday at Buddy Roe’s, 188 Billy Covington Road. Kickstands will go up at 1:30 p.m. and riders will go to Mayfest in Ellerbe, go through Derby, stop at the Moose Lodge before heading back to Buddy Roe’s for food, door prizes, a 50/50 drawing and an auction.
Items to be auctioned include a fire pit, a patio swing, gift cards for tattoos, manicures, Harley Davidson merchandise and wine from Litter River Vineyards and Winery.
All proceeds will benefit the Special Olympics. The Spring Games will be held at 10 a.m. May 8 at the Richmond Raiders football field, 838 N. U.S. 1.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]