Students haunt Concord farm to raise money for MS

As a tractor with its lights off pulled a hay wagon into an unlit pasture, McKenna Mills reached into the darkness for her 15-year-old twin sister Katelyn Mills and said, “Please hold my hand.”

McKenna doesn’t like scary things, she said: “Especially hayrides.”

To support some of their friends doing the haunting, and to raise money to help those with Multiple Sclerosis, the girls came along with a friend, Sydney Ramano, 15, and her mother, Jody Kratz-Ramano, to the Hayrides for MS fundraiser on Oct. 25.

Regina Hinson has been involved in fundraising for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to honor her aunt, Peggy Stallings, who lived with the disease for 35 years before she died in April. To help with the fundraising, Hinson and her husband, Ronnie Hinson, began having the haunted hayrides at their farm in 2012.

“There is no cure and really no known cause for MS,” Regina Hinson said. “So we want to try and do everything we can to raise awareness for the disease and raise funds to find a cure.”

Starting with neighborhood boys haunting the woods the first year, and enlisting the help of local high school students last year, Hinson decided to try a new twist this year. She would have students from four local high schools’ Key Clubs compete against each other to see who could scare the riders the most.

One school would be at the start of the ride. Dressed in scary costumes, with props and using flashlights, the students screamed and ran at the hay wagon, doing their best to scare the riders.

In the middle, the next school would start haunting, and at the end the riders would vote for which school was the scariest.

On Oct. 24, Cox Mill edged out Central Cabarrus, and on Oct. 25, Jay M. Robinson beat Hickory Ridge. Hinson said both contests were determined by fewer than 16 votes. On Sunday there were hayrides without haunting, during the daylight, for those with less bravado.

McKenna did fine, as most of the haunting acts were in the woods on the opposite side of the wagon from her. But when they stopped in the Hickory Ridge students’ area, a few haunters ran behind her. One touched her back, making her recoil and scream to the delight of those with her.

About 90 student volunteers helped raise $2,663.30, the most in three years, while scaring a record crowd of 412 people attending the-three day event, Regina Hinson said.

“I want to give a big thank you to all those students, who have such a giving and serving heart. It’s obvious from what they did that they are the future of people that will be giving back,” Hinson said.

The money raised over the weekend will go toward the Challenge Walk MS: Georgia 2015 March 6-8 in Savannah, Ga.

Hinson has been walking in the Challenge Walk MS – a three-day, 50-mile fundraiser to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society – for 12 years. The challenge walk is for teams; the team that Hinson belongs to, Sister Act Repeat, raised more than $65,000 last year and has set a goal of $60,000 this year.