On Saturday, September 28, the Dawn Center of Hernando County held its second annual Ride for the Dawn. The organization works with men, women and children who have been victims of domestic or sexual violence. Among the services it offers is a hotline, outreach services and an emergency shelter.
As April Johnson, Community Engagement Coordinator for the Dawn Center, stated, “This whole event was the brainchild of an amazing girl, Alyssa Barocas.”
Last year, Alyssa chose the Dawn Center for her “Pay It Forward” project that her social studies teacher had organized. The purpose of this project was to teach the students something about social responsibility and to let them put the skills they learned in school to practical use. She organized the “Ride for the Dawn” to raise money for the center. Through her efforts and the support of the community it was such an overwhelming success that Alyssa, who is now a freshman in high school, decided she wanted to make this an annual event.
Because the event wasn’t a school project, she had more flexibility in organizing the Ride. With the help of her dad, Stephen, his girlfriend, Sue Krenitsky, a committee of volunteers and a professional promoter they were able to plan something much bigger than last year. They started working on the project in December.
“This year’s ride was different because with last year’s ride it was a school project so we couldn’t get a lot of people involved. We couldn’t do 50/50 drawings or raffles. Last year’s event was held at just one place - the Drunken Mullet. This year we went from place to place and made it a full day event,” Stephen commented.
Approximately one hundred people each paid $10 to participate in the ride. They could either ride a motorcycle or drive their car. The ride started out at 10:00 a.m. at the Horse & Crown on U.S. 19.
Each rider/driver was given one of two real life stories about a victim of domestic violence. Each story had a question at the end that listed two different answers to continue the story. At the next stop, depending on which option they chose, they were given a continuation of the story with another question that had two more different options for handling the situation. This continued through stops at five different places. It was a progressive story. The final outcome of the story depended on which options the participant chose along the way. The activity called “In Their Shoes” is designed for learning about domestic violence.
Besides the Horse & Crown, the other locations were the Drunken Mullet, Marker 48, the Sail Inn, finishing up at Sparacia & Witherell Winery where the after-party was held. There was a food truck, pizza and drinks for sale, raffles, a 50/50 drawing and wine tasting.
The Shadow Ridge Band, sponsored by Judkins Construction, provided live music. Other sponsors included ResiPro, O’Brien and Delzer Insurance, the law firm of Lucas and Magazine, the Horse & Crown, Drunken Mullet, Marker 48, the Sail Inn, Sparacia & Witherell Winery, Crystal Harley Davidson, ServPro of Hernando, Vans Cars & Trucks, Spring Hill Now and Monte Designs.
“The most satisfying thing about the event was seeing the end results and seeing how many people came out to support it,” remarked Alyssa.
Those end results were substantial and reflected the hard work put into the fund-raising effort. Although the final totals have not come in, at last count, they doubled the cash donations raised last year and they’re hoping to double this number again next year.
For more information on the Dawn Center go to www.dawncenter.org. The phone number for the administration office is 352-684-7191. The 24-hour Crisis Hotline is 352-686-8430.