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Local club bringing inclusivity to Dawsonville
Annual motorcycle ride raises money for Civitan projects
Dawsonville Civitan members Dawsonville Mayor Mike Eason, Dianne Hansard, Geme Hansard, Ann Raines, and Nina Martin pose for a photo before the Ride for a Reason Sept. 28 at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. - photo by Jessica Taylor

Despite inclement weather Saturday morning, the members of the Dawsonville Civitan Club came out to the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame ready to host the annual Ride for a Reason poker run.

The event consists of motorcyclists winding through Dawson County, stopping along the way to pick up playing cards until they have collected enough for a poker hand. It’s the main fundraiser for the civic organization.

“We’re trying to grow this again,” President Dianne Hansard said. “With just the few of us, we make a lot of money and we spend a lot of money, and it all goes back to the county.”

Last August, the Civitan Club raised $15,000 which was able to fund four inclusive playground equipment pieces at Veterans Memorial Park. It includes swings and a “cozy cocoon” where children with autism and sensory processing disorders can remove themselves from situations of sensory overload while still being accessible to their parents or caretakers.

Looking toward the future, the Civitan Club used the Ride for a Reason to generate more funds to expand the playground.

“We bought a table and two benches that’s for the park, to add to it,” Hansard said.

“It’s wheelchair accessible, and it seems that no other park has a wheelchair accessible picnic table,” Civitan member Nina Martin explained.

The Dawson County Parks and Recreation Department will be moving about 36 feet of the fence surrounding the playground 12 feet back so that the grassy area where the wheelchair accessible picnic table will be placed is within the playground area. Next on the wish list is a wheelchair accessible swing, Hansard said.

“We’re trying to make that park kind of the signature park for the county, especially now that it has the Veterans name,” Hansard said. “We’re trying to connect them to it in some way or another, too.”

The Dawsonville Civitan Club is a chapter of Civitan International, a worldwide community service organization consisting of more than 1,000 clubs in over 30 countries. Its mission is to serve individual and community needs with an emphasis on helping people with developmental disabilities.

Beyond the club’s goals at Veterans Memorial Park, Dawsonville Civitan sponsors Christmas stockings and gifts for the residents of North Georgia Assisted Living, provides pizzas for the spring and fall Special Olympics, sends children to Camp Big Heart in Warner Robins, celebrates Pastors Appreciation Day and sponsors the annual Miss Sparkle pageant for the county’s exceptional girls.

On Oct. 18 from 5:30-7 p.m., the club will be celebrating its fifth anniversary with a reception at Veterans Memorial Park.

“We’re always looking for new members,” Hansard said.