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Zombie Day event to benefit Pieter’s Pals

By Amanda Raymond

amanda.raymond@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — A class project has grown into a community event at the Rowan County Fairgrounds on Saturday.

Angela Mills is organizing a Zombie Day event as a fundraiser for Pieter’s Pals, an organization that raises awareness of childhood cancer and provides support for families who have children battling life-threatening illnesses, according to its website.

Pieter Swart, son of Pieter and Jenn Swart, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at 3 years old. He passed away about two years later, surrounded by his family. Pieter’s Pals was originally put together to support the Swart family, but the organization has continued as a tribute to Pieter and a resource for other families.

Angela Mills and her daughter Maggie are cousins of Pieter.

Maggie is a seventh-grader at Erwin Middle School. Her teacher asked the class to suggest organizations to raise money for, and Angela Mills said Maggie only had one organization in mind.

“Maggie didn’t even think of anything else; she knew she wanted to do it for Pieter’s Pals,” Mills said.

The rest of the class agreed to donate their fundraising efforts to Pieter’s Pals.

Students were originally going to sell candy during lunch to raise money. And then Mills said she wanted to take the students on a zombie walk since Pieter loved zombies. Mills said one of his favorite games was Plants vs. Zombies.

After talking with a friend and getting more ideas, Mills said the event snowballed into what it is now.

The event will be from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. The day will start with a Zombie Run 5K, with registration starting at noon. Participants can also pre-register online now.

The students created games and activities, like a zombie head toss and a teacher getting a pie in the face.

There will be a bounce house, dunking booth and a balloon dart game, and attendees will be able to play capture the flag and zombie dodge ball.

Attendees will be able to buy food and merchandise from vendors, including participation from The Forbidden Forest Horror Trail and the Hotdog Shack. Digger the Zombie will also be at the event. All of the vendors will be making a donation to Pieter’s Pals.

Along with door prizes, items will be auctioned off during a silent auction. A man who works with the Forbidden Forest has donated a custom mask. A trip for two to Atlantic City with a value of $1,500 has been donated. Maggie was also able to secure a one sheet signed by the season six cast of the Walking Dead television show and a locally made replica of Lucille the Bat, a bat wrapped in barbwire that a character on The Walking Dead uses as a weapon, for the auction.

A DJ will be playing music throughout the day. A zombie walk will take place in the evening and will lead to a zombie dance to end the event.

Mills said this was her first time putting an event of this size together, and she did it in three months. News of the event has spread to different areas and cities, and Mills said she could not be happier with the response the event has received.

“I am so happy (word has spread) because little Pieter was my hero and I would do anything for him and his family,” she said.

Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children and free for children 8 years old and younger. Registration for the 5K is $20 online and $25 the day of the event.

To register for the 5K, visit www.sportoften.com/event/33876/zombie-5k-for-pieter’s-pals.

For more information on the event, visit www.facebook.com/events/1596740493981600/permalink/1616125775376405/. Pictures of the event will be posted throughout the day at www.facebook.com/zombiedaycharities/.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.

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