They have revived a beloved tradition while raising funds for local charities, and on Saturday they will be spreading good will again.
This one may be a smaller scale but will be just as noteworthy, because it will be an effort by the organizers of Bring Back Cruising to Uptown Hillsboro to raise the spirits of local veteran Terry Wilkin, who in December was diagnosed with ALS.
Wilkin is a 1982 graduate of Hillsboro High School who served 12 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, followed by several years in law enforcement as a narcotics officer in South Carolina, according to Ashleigh Howland, one of Wilkin’s three daughters, who are all originally from Hillsboro.
The other two daughters are Miranda Wilkin and Kelsi Wilkin.
Ashleigh said the drive-by is part of a family cookout that is the girls’ Father’s Day gift to their dad.
Originally, Ashleigh said, they were planning a benefit for Terry. But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Terry is not supposed to around people because he’s at high risk if he catches the virus, so the benefit was put on hold. But Terry got lonely, so his daughters decided to organize a drive-by celebration.
“We thought it would be a good thing for him to see everybody and know that they still love him,” Ashleigh said. “Then we got in touch with Dan Holsinger, and it just blew up. We’re not sure how it all came about, it just happened. It’s something we could do to raise his spirits and raise awareness for ALS.”
Dan Holsinger is the main organizer of the Bring Back Cruising to Uptown Hillsboro events.
Since those events started last month, Holsinger and a slew of helpers have donated $1,500 and and two pallets of food and other items to New Life Church and Ministries in Hillsboro, $750 to Hope for Highland, and $300 in cash, a $100 gift certificate to Rural King and $100 in food and litter to the Highland County Humane Society Animal Shelter. It all comes from T-shirt sales, raffles and donations.
Holsinger said they still have a little money leftover. He said they are planning a July 21 cruising event to raise funds for Hillsboro VFW Post 9094, local firefighters and EMTs, and possibly another organization. Then they plan to raise more funds to provide needy area families with Christmas gifts for kids.
On Saturday, June 20, those interested are asked to start gathering in the former Hillsboro High School parking lots around 5 p.m. Around 5:45 p.m., the #TerryStrong ALS Awareness Drive By Parade will head toward South Glenn Street where Terry will be located. The procession will then head out toward Southern State Community College, turn around and come back.
Ashleigh said those taking part are encouraged to make posters or decorate their cars.
Not so long ago, Ashleigh said, her father started losing weight and having nerve and muscle issues. He didn’t know what the problem was, but after tests was diagnosed with ALS. She said her father recently had to quit work.
She said anyone wanting to take part is invited, but added that the family is not asking for donations.
“It’s just to raise his spirits and let him know he’s not alone and we’re here with him,” Ashleigh said. “He knows he has his girls, but it goes beyond that.”
In a Facebook post about the event, Ashleigh wrote these words: “He told me the other day, that he prays every night for God to bless each and every person who has reached out, prayed for him and showed him all the love and support…. It means so much to him to see everyone’s love and support…. And during these rough times things have been a lot harder (for everyone) so let’s join together and do something for a man who deserves it and for ALL battling ALS. THEIR LIVES MATTER TOO!!… Thank you so much and God Bless you from us ALL.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.