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Meeting to talk about efforts to help needy veterans are, from left, Greg Russell, Wayne McGrady, Bill Presnell, Phil Outen, Jerry Trotter, Bill Beason, Rob Wilkins and Wayne Thomas.    Larry Penkava/Randolph Hub

Honoring Our Veterans event raises $25K+

ASHEBORO — The 10th Annual Honoring Our Veterans Cruise-In brought in $25,528.12 for the Randolph County Veterans Council. Those funds are used to assist veterans in their time of need.


The event was held Sept. 16 at Wayne Thomas Chevrolet in Asheboro. Beautiful weather and vintage cars and trucks brought out a large crowd to honor veterans, many of whom were in attendance and participated in the annual veterans march. Live music was performed by the Red Line Band and Greg Russell emceed. Vintage aircraft did a flyover and the day concluded with a cruise to the NC Aviation Museum at the Asheboro Regional Airport.


The proceeds from the cruise-in were presented to the Veterans Council on Nov. 2, raising the total for the 10 years of the event to $182,292.12. 


Asked how the Honoring Our Veterans Cruise-In began, Wayne Thomas said his father, Dan Thomas, was a World War II veteran. When Dan Thomas died in 2009, Wayne got involved in the Flight of Honor, which flies veterans to Washington, DC, to visit monuments dedicated to those who have served.


Later, he said, Wayne McGrady and Jerry Trotter asked him to host an event they were planning to honor veterans.


“We have had over 200 vintage cars, really neat vehicles,” Thomas said. “We’ve been blessed with good weather and it’s worked out very well.”


The 2020 event had to be canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic but Honoring Our Veterans still received $3,000 in donations that year.


McGrady said he and his brother served in the military, both behind desks. He said he had seen the sacrifice from those in service and wanted to honor veterans.


“Serving my country was an honor,” McGrady said. “It was a time I was very grateful and blessed for.”


Judge Rob Wilkins, commander of the Randolph County Veterans Council, said the funds from the Honoring Our Veterans events “have helped over 200 veterans in Randolph County in the last 10 years.”


Wilkins said some of the ways honorably discharged veterans in need are helped include:

— A new roof for the veteran’s home.

— Heat and air-conditioning repairs.

— Medicine.

— Short-term housing.

— Transportation.


“The funds are not limited to those folks,” Wilkins said. “We also support fallen veterans with funds for flags at their graves. We place flags every Memorial Day and Veterans Day. The Saturday before Veterans Day, we put out over 1,500 flags. 


“We also provide funds for local civic and other groups who care for cemeteries to honor fallen veterans.”


Wilkins said $3,500 of Veterans Council money was used to purchase six rifles for the Randolph County Honor Guard for ceremonial use in military honors at veterans’ funerals. Recently, the council distributed four defibrillators to veterans posts.


Bill Beason, treasurer of the Veterans Council, said they have helped homeless veterans find temporary homes in motels then helped them find a permanent place to stay.


“The first one I helped was a World War II veteran who was 96 years old and needed money to pay his electric bill,” Beason said. 


The man’s heat pump went out and he began using emergency heat, which used much more electricity than he expected. 


“I wrote a check for his electric bill,” Beason said. “Two weeks later I read his obituary. It was heartbreaking.


“It makes you proud that you have veterans helping other veterans.”


Thomas said the Honoring Our Veterans Cruise-In has tremendous community support as well as dedicated sponsors. “It wouldn’t happen without either of them,” he said. “I’ve never been involved in a project with more community comments.”


Wilkins noted that “one or two people with an idea can make a difference. Every veteran we’ve helped at one point raised their hand” to pledge their support for their country.


McGrady said the public can help by sending a check to Honoring Our Veterans, PO Box 2259, Asheboro, NC 27204. Sponsors can get their names on the official T-shirts. For more details, call Wayne McGrady at 336-626-9555 or Jerry Trotter at 336-460-4718.


Next year’s Honoring Our Veterans Cruise-In will be held Sept. 14, 2024, at Wayne Thomas Chevrolet, 1400 E. Dixie Drive, Asheboro.