Who will take Toss for Tots title?
By Susan Shinn
For the Salisbury Post
Cornhole fans, rejoice! The Toss for Tots tournament to benefit Prevent Child Abuse Rowan is just around the corner.
The second-annual event is slated for Saturday, Sept. 17, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at the F&M Trolley Barn. Tickets are $50, which includes food truck fare, beer and wine, and live music. Add an extra $10 to participate in the cornhole tournaments, which runs from 7 to 9 p.m.
“We had a great year last year,” Executive Director Beth McKeithan says of the inaugural event. “We met our goal for funding, which was used to purchase a piece of equipment for our medical room. We had a wonderful community response. People were just excited to come out to a different kind of fundraising event, and I found out everyone loves cornhole!”
This year, Toss for Tots proceeds will raise money for therapeutic services. McKeithan hopes to raise $18,000 — the same as last year’s goal.
“We have recently partnered with Saving Grace Farm,” she says, “and we’re doing trauma therapy simultaneously with equine therapy. So far, we’ve been finding sponsors for these children on a case-by-case basis. Our hope is that these kids who have just shut down will open up with equine therapy, and get even more benefit from trauma therapy.”
Trauma therapy, McKeithan explains, is a specific type of therapy aimed at children who have encountered trauma in their lives. “Most of our kids qualify for that type of therapy.”
The agency lost the local grant that funded therapist Erin Messmer’s position, McKeithan says. “We’ve had to replace her salary with donations. It’s important that she stays on with us, because there are people with good jobs who cannot afford the co-pay every week.”
McKeithan points out that all services provided at the Terrie Hess House — where Prevent Child Abuse Rowan is housed — are free.
“Erin sees children for as long as the need is there,” she says. “Fortunately, we’ve had people to step up and fund individual sessions.”
The agency’s cost is $108.52 per session, and since each child receives an average of 20-24 sessions, a total course of treatment costs from $2,170.40 to $2,604.48.
The mission of Prevent Child Abuse Rowan is to stop child abuse in Rowan County through prevention, intervention and support. The agency saw 244 cases of abuse in 2016, and has grown 35 percent during each of the last three years. Year-to-date, the agency has worked with 158 cases of child abuse. McKeithan attributes this plateau to heightened awareness the agency has built over the past three years.
With assistance from Julie Rose Freeze, who works part-time as a forensic interviewer, McKeithan continues those duties as well as her executive director role.
“I like working with the kids,” she says. “It reminds me of why I do all the other parts of my job. The need to help a child get better overrides anything else. That’s why the therapy is such an important piece, because that’s where they begin to heal.”
McKeithan adds, “I know people will step up to help. This community is so supportive, and we’re so grateful. There’s no way we could do what we do without the community’s help.”
This year’s Toss for Tots tournament includes food from two food trucks, The Big Tasty, with Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, hot dogs and brats, along with Chibogz, featuring Asian fusion cuisine. You can check out the menus on the Prevent Child Abuse Rowan facebook page.
There will also be cash prizes for winners and raffle items, along with entertainment for the evening by Livehouse.
This year’s sponsors include: Corning, Drs. Vance and Tina Merhoff, Mark and Virginia Robertson, Team Chevrolet/Ally Financial, Tom and Carolyn Hess, Ryan and Alice Rich, Shawn and Penny Adelsberger, Bradshaw’s Bail Bonding, Brad and Traci Williams, The Forum of Salisbury, Cloninger Ford & Toyota, F&M Bank, and Novant Health.
To order tickets, visit www.preventchildabuseorwan.org or call 704-639-1700.
Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.
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