ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County is coming together to support one of its own who is going to represent North Carolina in the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle.
On Sunday, VFW Post 4203 and Ol’ Skool Tribe motorcycle club will team up to hold the Special Olympics Team NC Bike Ride to raise money that will go towards Dawn Grooms and her family’s trip to the games.
Grooms, 49, has competed in local and state Special Olympics games since she was in high school, but this year is the first time she will compete nationally. Eddie Dean, vice president of the Ol’ Skool Tribe, and Robin Roberts, president of Post 4203 Auxiliary, said when they found out Grooms was having to raise money for her trip, they decided to team up to help in the best way they knew how.
“We’re just wanted to give back to her,” Roberts said, adding that Grooms often participates in veterans events around the community. “We wanted her family to have more spending money.”
Dean said he has known Grooms for more than 35 years and has been driving her to her practices — as well as to get ice cream with his daughter and their friends.
“I feel it in my heart — it’s something I want to do,” Dean said of supporting Grooms.
Grooms will compete in bocce ball at the games. She said in an interview that she “doesn’t know how to deal with the pressure” of competing at such a high level, but added she was excited about the opportunity.
“I’m going to have fun and meet a lot of athletes,” Grooms said.
Grooms and her family started a fundraiser on FirstGiving with a goal of raising $2,018. As of Thursday evening, her page had generated $1,129 in donations.
“Participating in Special Olympics NC has allowed me to meet many new friends,” Grooms wrote in her introduction on FirstGiving. “It has shown me that I can be successful in many areas of my life.”
The ride will be one loop with no stops beginning at 2 p.m. at the VFW, 106 Old River Road in Rockingham. Participation will be donation only.
Dean said the riders will go down U.S. 1 to Cheraw, South Carolina, take U.S. 52 West back to Morven, then from N.C. 145 to U.S. 74 and back to the VFW, which should take roughly an hour.
Once back at the VFW, the riders will have hot dogs with other special needs athletes and hold a 50/50 drawing, according to Dean.
“It’s amazing to get out (to the games) see how happy they are when they win, no matter what medal they win,” Dean said. “I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]