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An engaging fundraiser

Published 9:02pm Monday, March 25, 2013

Guests at a Saturday engagement party for high school sweethearts Allison Perry and Ryan Gilbreath played poker, roulette, craps and blackjack — all for a good cause.

Perry and Gilbreath, who are natives of the area, wanted to make their engagement party about more than just them. So they held a casino night and are donating the proceeds to Prevent Child Abuse Virginia, where Perry works.

Allison Perry and Ryan Gilbreath pause for a photo during their engagement party on Saturday. They used the celebration as a fundraiser for Prevent Child Abuse Virginia, where Perry works.
Allison Perry and Ryan Gilbreath pause for a photo during their engagement party on Saturday. They used the celebration as a fundraiser for Prevent Child Abuse Virginia, where Perry works.

“Ryan and I decided to do something a little different for our engagement party,” said Perry, who has dated her fiance since the two went to Deep Creek High School together. “It really felt good that we were doing something to pay it forward.”

About 80 of the couple’s friends and family attended the engagement party, hosted by Perry’s father at his Nansemond Point home. Businesses including Walmart, The Sweet Spot and Onelife Fitness donated prizes for the games, and a family friend donated the use of their vacation home in the Outer Banks as a prize.

Gilbreath said everyone enjoyed the party.

“Everybody really felt a sense of togetherness,” he said. “She’s passionate about what she does, so I’m passionate about it.”

Perry and Gilbreath met when he was on the drumline and she was in the color guard in Deep Creek’s marching band. Later, they continued dating while he attended Virginia State University and she went to Virginia Commonwealth University.

They’re planning their wedding for May 2014 in Virginia Beach.

Perry said she knows the $2,000 raised during her engagement party will be put to good use.

“Nobody likes to talk about child abuse, but it does exist in our community,” she said. The organization works on preventing child abuse through educating parents and providing them with resources.

“I know what we do makes a difference in the lives of children,” she said. “That’s what we want our marriage to be about — extending love to others.”

As a public extension of the engagement party, the couple will be planting pinwheels — the symbol of child abuse awareness — at Sleepy Hole Park this Saturday, March 30, near the children’s learning garden. Anyone is welcome to come help plant about 500 pinwheels, which were sponsored by donations at the party.

The pinwheel planting will occur from noon to 2 p.m. Perry said she will leave extras with the park ranger for later visitors to plant or for kids to take.

Another opportunity for local folks to support the fight against child abuse will happen April 4 at Cedar Point Country Club, where Prevent Child Abuse Hampton Roads will hold its 31st annual Child Abuse Prevention Celebrity Night. Media, political and entertainment celebrities will serve at each location, and celebrity tips and a percentage of restaurant receipts will be donated to the cause. Find more information at www.pcahr.org.

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