Up & Coming Weekly

April 11, 2023

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 15 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM APRIL 12 - 18, 2023 UCW 15 KATRINA WILSON, Staff Writer. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomingweekly. com. 910-484-6200 Grab a leather jacket, a helmet, clean off the motorcycle and gear up for the Riding for Hope Bike Run fundraiser on April 22. April is Autism Awareness Month and this fundraiser will spread aware- ness on the subject and support a good cause. is event is not just for motorcy- clists, because the community can come out and enjoy it. ose inter- ested in riding can register the day of the event from 8 to 9:30 a.m. e fee is $20 for riders and $10 for passengers. is is the Jarred Bryan Sparks Foundation's annual fundraiser that assists with funding for e School of Hope, a private school for autistic children. Salina Medlin, a teacher's assistant at e School of Hope, is also on the Jarred Bryan Sparks Foundation. She thought of the motorcycle run in 2020. According to Medlin, the founda- tion has helped raise $40,000 for the school over the years. is year's Bike Run will help raise money for e School of Hope expansion. Right now, they are near capacity. Once the modular buildings are up, the school can provide more space for additional students. e class size is small at the school — 10 students or less to one teacher. Another reason this fundraiser is important is because when a child is diagnosed with autism, e School of Hope wants to be top of mind when parents seek help. "As a mother with children with au- tism, I understand the frustration and fear parents go through. Cumberland County Schools doesn't have the resources needed to provide the one- on-one each [autistic] student needs," she said. "e School of Hope has smaller classrooms, Applied Behavior Analysis and Registered Behavioral Technicians. is allows us to meet the individual needs of our students." Fundraiser History e inaugural ride was in Novem- ber 2020. ey did not have one in 2021 and got back into action in 2022. is is the third ride. Because of COVID, the founda- tion could not have its annual spring festival in 2020. Medlin was thinking of how to fill the void for funding. She thought of a bike run because it hit all the marks — social distancing, riders could bring their own motorcycle, it's outside and folks could wear masks. Medlin said it was an amazing hit. She said she never had a bike run before and the community came together strong for it. e motorcycle community — rid- ers and clubs — go around and find communities that might need help fundraising and do the bike runs. John Larson, Fort Bragg Hog Chap- ter, led the bike run in 2022. Medlin said he was helpful with leading the run and creating the route. "It came out well and I couldn't have done it without the community's help to spread awareness about au- tism," she said. Larson told Medlin that typically bike rides have an honorary rider. She thought of her son, Julian. Julian is autistic and has always wanted to have a motorcycle. She knew this was perfect for him to do the ride. "I thought, 'is would be a great opportunity for him to get out in the community and socialize with other people and have a great time by riding on the back of John's bike throughout the ride,'" she said. "It was real good for him." Medlin said they are looking for this year's honorary rider. Medlin says be- ing an honorary rider helps the child socialize and have a good time. Learn and Have Fun ose interested in attending the fundraiser may be wondering what to expect. "We're always there to help educate parents who have young children with autism. Maybe they're not sure what direction to go to help their child," she said. Other happenings at the event: the foundation will sell T-shirts, have free food and a raffle for a 60-inch smart TV. Each rider that is registered in the ride will get a free raffle ticket. Spon- sors of the event get a raffle ticket, too. Additional tickets can be purchased. e raffle tickets go into a jar and at the end of the bike run, a ticket is drawn. e winner can pick up the smart TV from the school the following Mon- day. e Riding for Hope Bike Run will start at 3950 Sycamore Dairy Road in Fayetteville. e School of Hope Amy and Rob Sparks created e School of Hope for autistic children. eir son Jarred Bryan Sparks lived with autism and died in June 2011 at the age of 19. In 2017, the Sparks started the nonprofit Jarred Bryan Sparks Foundation to spread aware- ness about autism. e foundation advocates for autistic children and provides financial support for the school. Students with the diagnosis of autism can attend grades K-12. For more information about the Riding for Hope Bike Run call 910- 339-5683. Local foundation to host annual motorcycle fundraiser for The School of Hope by KATRINA WILSON EVENT Leading motorcyclist John Larson from Fort Bragg Hog Chapter with hon- orary rider Julian Medlin at the 2nd annual Riding for Hope Bike Run. Community members gather for the inaugural Riding for Hope Bike Run in 2020. (Photos courtesy e School of Hope) Rob and Amy Sparks, founders of e School of Hope and Jarred Sparks Foundation participating in the 2nd annual Riding for Hope Bike Run.

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