ROCKINGHAM — A disc golf tournament last weekend raised around $1,500 to benefit the Richmond County Chapter of the Autism Society of North Carolina.
The inaugural Disc Golf for Good Tournament, held April 23 at Hinson Lake’s disc golf course, drew 80 players from across the state, according to organizer Chris McDonald.
“My main goal with the Richmond County Disc Golf Group’s spring tournament was for it to be a charity event, for a local charity, in conjunction with their normal event,” McDonald said, giving Relay for Life as an example.
When he made a post asking if Relay for Life was being held this year, McDonald said he received several responses of no.
“Also, in the comments, Dana Mintmier, who works with the (Exceptional Children) Department for the county, posted a comment about how (they) and the Autism Society were partnering up for an Autism Walk in April and she hoped the disc golf group and them could work together for an event,” McDonald said. “I’m very thankful she brought up the idea. Unfortunately, we were unable to host both events on the same day but I felt this would be the perfect partnership.”
McDonald said several local disc golf players either have children with autism or “family members who have been impacted one way or the other.”
According to the Autism Society, the rate of autism in children was one in 125 in 2010. A decade later, the CDC reported that it had increased to one in 54. Statistics show the rate has now increased to one in 44 — increasing 241% since 2000.
“(There) are also less-known factoids about autism for the public compared to other potential charities/groups we could have supported,” McDonald said. “So, I went with the Autism Society and I could not have been more thrilled with the choice.”
Meghann Lambeth, leader of the local chapter of the Autism Society, was also thrilled.
She said McDonald contacted her in February about the event.
“I was so honored that he thought of our group to benefit from the disc golf tournament,” Lambeth said. “He and the group not only offered a wonderful event for our community, but generated a very generous donation for our local Richmond County Chapter of the Autism Society of North Carolina.
“We can not thank them enough for supporting our group and organizing these events to utilize the disc golf course at Hinson Lake.”
Lambeth, who is also the executive director of the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority, has a son who is on the autism spectrum. She and her mother, Marcia Lambeth, reorganized the chapter several years ago.
A few days prior to the tournament, the Autism Society received a $2,000 donation from American Woodmark.
With the number of players, more than 10 sponsors and the amount raised, McDonald said, “ I hope to greatly exceed these totals for next year’s event.”
The inaugural Run/Walk for Autism Awareness and Acceptance is scheduled for 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, April 30 — the final day of Autism Acceptance Month — on the track at Richmond Senior High School.
All families are encouraged to participate. Any donations collected will go to the Richmond County chapter of the Autism Society of North Carolina.