Penny Carter enjoyed dancing nonstop to hits such as Micheal Jackson’s “Bad” and “Do You Love Me” by The Contours. She even had fun dancing in the conga line, which wrapped around a crowded room at the Sampson County Agri-Exposition Center.
“I enjoy anything with an upbeat,” Carter said after taking a break. “They have to pull me off the dance floor.”
She was one of many who attended the annual Valentine’s Dance sponsored by the Sampson Civitans.
“It’s been seven years,” Carter said. “I enjoy being with my friends and seeing the teachers I had from classes.”
The local tradition gave people with intellectual and physical disabilities the opportunity to have fun on the dance floor with their peers. Some of the participants were from Sampson Community College, Skilled Creations, Inc.
Civitans President Terry Williams said it’s something the organization enjoys to do. It began with just high school students, but it expanded to other organizations.
“Our main purpose is helping folks who are less fortunate than us,” Williams said.
Williams said it’s what the Civitans organization is all about. Member Nathan Gay had a big part in the formation of the event which is enjoyed by so many.
“It’s great because they probably don’t get a chance to be in this kind of environment for maybe about once or twice a year,” Williams said about the dance. JC Oates, a members of the Civitans, said the organizations comes together once a year for they event.
“They’re having a good time,” Oates said.
Throughout the year, the organization hosts several events for special occasions such as Christmas and Easter.
Amanda Monagus of Rose Hill enjoyed slow dancing with the partygoers. She’s attended the event for several years.
“It shows that no matter what kind of differences you got, everyone can join in together,” Monagus said.
After the dance, they enjoyed a meal from McDonald’s and a cake designed by Rhonda Lockamy.
Bart Rice, a compensatory education coordinator for Sampson Community College, said the event is something students look forward to.
“They deserve some time to cut loose, and have a good time,” Rice said. “They come from different parts of the community, get together and have fun.”
Dale Johnson, a service provider for Academy of Continuing Excellence program, said the annual event is a highlight during the year for people who come annually.
“They look forward to these dances,” Johnson said.
Tanya Bennett, a care coordinator from Eastpointe, alluded to how the dance is a change of pace to the regular home activities.
“It’s wonderful,” Bennett said. “We always make plans to come out here.”