Students, teachers, veterans, and others gathered at Central Services for the presentation, where the VFW presented the check and handed out t-shirts to the students. In return, the students gave the veterans thank you notes made by their art classes.
The VFW hosted its third annual Bill Lynn Memorial Golf Tournament on May 6 to raise funds, bringing in over 130 golfers to play—a record high for the tournament.
Along with the tournament, other methods of fundraising included a Poker Run, a silent auction, yard sales, and donations.
"It took a lot of hard work and knocks on doors," said Gene Ramsey, commander of Post #4066. "But it was like magic."
When the first check was presented in 2014, it was for $6,600. Ramsey said the goal this year was to double the amount given in 2015, which was over $11,000.
Donations came from both inside and outside of Cleveland County. Corporate sponsors included Walmart, Allstate Insurance, and Carolina Pediatric Therapy, and this year's 75 new sponsors brought in a total of $16,000, helping the VFW to exceed their goal.
“My [personal] goal is to help our veterans who have fought in wars, help our veterans who are in service, and help autistic children in the community,” Ramsey said. “It’s been a blessing.”
He said the choice to help with autistic students stemmed from the VFW's National Home for Children, which aids children and grandchildren of veterans.
"We got to thinking, 'Why not send this money locally?'" he said. "Now it has just snowballed."
Dr. Nellie Aspel, director of exceptional children in Cleveland County, said the money will go directly to better the lives of autistic children in the community.
“I love that Cleveland County is such a giving community and that every penny will go to our kids,” Dr. Aspel said.
She said the funds would help support students with autism through scholarships for summer camp and expand the EC program with more materials, technology, field trips, and more. Further professional development for staff will be available, and plans are in the works to sponsor a family event next year, along with plans to add a class to Marion Elementary.
“It’s very awe-inspiring to see a group of men who served our country to continue to serve our community in such a special way,” said Dr. Aspel. “The impact they are making on the lives of such special students is priceless.”
See below for downloadable event photos.
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