It was a long two-hour drive from Pinehurst to Charlotte, but Dee Park insists she had to be in the Queen City on Saturday.
The 80-year-old retiree wanted to show local officials she’s willing to help in any way possible when the Republican National Convention comes to Charlotte in 2020.
“I want to bloom wherever they plant me. I want to work,” she said, donning a red “Make America Great Again” cap.
Park was one of a few hundred Republican voters who packed the back of Buffalo Wild Wings in uptown Saturday to learn about volunteer opportunities for the 2020 Republican National Convention.
The event was a celebration of the city winning the convention but also an early drive to get voters involved in helping ensure it runs smoothly. Republicans are looking for 7,000 to 10,000 volunteers for the convention, N.C. GOP executive Dallas Woodhouse said.
“We want to go ahead and get to know them (the volunteers), get them active and get them involved sooner rather than later,” Woodhouse said.
On Saturday, GOP voters of all ages traveled to Charlotte from all over the state to show they want to help.
Austin Holmes, a 20-year-old Western North Carolina University student, said he hopes to meet President Donald Trump during the event. As a volunteer, he said, he wants to sweep the podium after the president speaks.
Holmes, who was born and raised in Hickory, never expected the convention to come to Charlotte but is happy it’ll be nearby.
“I’m excited because it’s in my backyard,” he said. “It brings recognition to Charlotte, and it’ll hopefully provide a lot of economic opportunities for Charlotte.”
In addition to recruiting volunteers, Saturday’s event also aimed at energizing voters for the midterm elections.
Republican Mark Harris, who is running for North Carolina’s 9th congressional district, said the turnout of potential volunteers Saturday is a sign GOP voters are excited for the upcoming elections.
Harris, former pastor at First Baptist Church in Charlotte, remembers when the Democratic National Committee came to the city in 2012. People from both parties worked to ensure the event was successful, he said, and he hopes to see that kind of collaboration in 2020.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to really say to the city and say to the nation that Charlotte is a welcoming city,” he said. “We’re glad to have people here for the convention. It certainly has become a world class city in so many ways.”