Friday, July 25, 2014
It may have been raining outside, but inside the South Strand Recreation Complex the music was going strong, and the dress for the day was sandals, Hawaiian shirts, leis and summer chic.
More than 40 developmentally disabled adults got their beach fix at a monthly social event sponsored by the Coastal Carolina ARC chapter.
Attendees danced, performed karaoke, played plastic and air guitars, dined on spaghetti, salad and dessert for two hours, singing along with Elvis, Michael Jackson and other favorites.
It’s all part of the activities sponsored by the ARC chapter, explained Ray Dadducci, the local group’s president.
Sunday was one of the good days, Dadducci said, grinning from ear to ear. Attendance topped 40, the food went quickly and the dance floor quickly filled.
“We try to have a social function – a dance, a dinner, some sort of activity like that – each month,” he said. In addition, the organization sponsors twice a month bowling and publishes an activity calendar.
Long involved with the Special Olympics, when Dadducci moved to South Carolina, he recognized a need to go beyond athletics.
So he gathered a group of volunteers who put out the word for more assistance, and a growing activity was born.
“When we started, we had a hard time getting people to come out. But as word spread, attendance grew,” he said, adding that it took nothing away from the Special Olympics, which also has experienced growth since the first group representing the Grand Strand competed on the state level.
“I think we had 12 people that first year,” Dadducci said. “The next year, there were 40.”
That seems to be the magic number. The social activities draw the largest crowd when karaoke is offered. It doesn’t matter that some people can’t read the words; they know the songs by heart. Almost all the social activities are provided by volunteers. They provide the food, bring it to the event, serve it and clean up later.
South Strand offers its facilities for free and other locations have also offered to host the monthly socials.
There’s a $15 annual charge to join the group, but after that, costs are low. The rewards are high, says Dadducci – megawatt smiles.