On July 19, 2014, Big Dogs Paradise in Mechanicsville hosted an Autism Fundraiser to benefit the Autism Spectrum Support Group of Southern Maryland. The event was organized by Rusty Hamilton and Brian Adkins, owner of Big Dogs Paradise. It included a Pool Tournament and a Corn Hole Tournament along with Family Fun activities.
The Pool Tournament was held indoors where players and patrons listened to music spun by DJ Tom Pilkerton of Big T’s Entertainment. Big T also provided a photo booth with event customization free of charge. Drinks were available at the bar, and patrons generously filled a “Donations” bucket.
Outside, DJ Will Mattingly entertained the crowd with a variety of music as children enjoyed the moon bounce, donated for the day by Jimmy Guy from Elite Beatz. Thor from Super Heroes of Southern Maryland took time out from his adventures to visit with families. Queen Elsa also made a royal appearance and charmed everyone she met. The Autism Spectrum Support Group had an information table set up outside; members were available to answer questions and sell T-shirts and jewelry as additional fundraisers.
As competitors played in the Corn Hole Tournament (run by Nick Nicholas), players, families, and friends enjoyed drinks available at the outside serving shed. Hamburgers, hot dogs, and half smokes from Nick’s of Clinton (sponsored by Cindy Griffin of A Woman’s Touch Paint and Paper) were served with choice of chips and soda or water. Throughout the event, Support Group members — with help from volunteer Gabe Chandler — sold 50-50 raffle tickets. The lucky winner, “Crabby,” split the pot with the Autism Spectrum Support Group.
It took a lot of work behind the scenes at Big Dogs; thanks go out to Brian Adkins, his family, and all the staff and customers at Big Dogs Paradise who donated their time, energy, and caring for the Big Dogs Autism Fundraiser: Monica Thompson (organization, flyer, food prep), Maddie Adkins (Queen Elsa), Ashley Adkins (outside drinks), Stephanie Bates (set-up and concessions), Vickie Cooksey (clean-up), Debbie Marshall (inside bartender, food donation), Mark Flesher (on grill), Ricky Pilkerton (general help), Steve Marshall (coolers), Jerry Brash (orange cones), Casey Sheckels (grill and wood donation), Teresa Butler (food donation), and Guy Distributing (roadside banners). Thanks also go out to Rusty Hamilton, Chandra Kratko, Kate Hamilton and Mike for organization, preparation and event work. In addition, the Support Group would like to thank Tonya Albright (canopies) and the Chandler, Nicholas, and Beary families.
The money raised (almost $900) from this super fun event will help the Autism Spectrum Support Group serve families impacted by autism in Southern Maryland.