(WJBF) – It’s that time again where we introduce you to our Salute to Service Honoree. Each month we spotlight a veteran who continues to make a difference in our community.
This month for Salute to Service I had the honor of speaking with Ron Rigdon. Ron not only served his country he’s also spent the last 16 years collecting toys for kids with his organization Santa’s Toy Run. It’s very clear why he’s this month’s Salute to Service honoree
Ron Rigdon served in the US Army and for him it was a life changing experience.
“First of all I was eighteen, I knew everything until I stepped off that bus in Fort Jackson South Carolina. Then I found out how much I didn’t know. The service is the best thing to happen to me. It taught me respect, discipline, structure, it taught me teamwork most of all.”
After Ron finished training he learned how important it was to serve his country.
“We, here today, have the freedoms that we have after traveling overseas and seeing other countries, people really don’t know how blessed we are and the armed forces are the ones behind the freedoms that we have. The real heroes are the ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Them and their families, going to defend our country, my hat and my heart goes out to them and their families.”
Now Ron spends his time taking care of his family, and doing his best to help others with his organization.
“Back in 2008, the director of the National Auto Sports Association and myself got together and we wanted to create something we could help kids with. So he came up with the idea of calling his racing event at Road Atlanta Santa’s Toy Run and that we would collect toys at the gate. This is our 16th year, to date we have provided over 6,000 children with toys for Christmas, many of which who wouldn’t have had anything, and we’ve raised over 70,000 dollars for these organizations that take care of kids in the domestic violence shelters or in group foster homes.”
Ron is a humble guy and was surprised when he found out he was receiving the Salute to Service Award.
“I was very excited. I was like a kid at Christmas. When I heard I couldn’t wait to get the award.”
And he’s thankful for everyone who’s supported him all these years.
“I want to thank my wife. She is my rock, she keeps me level. She helps me with everything that we do, and my family for all of their support but I also want to thank the volunteers that help us with Santa’s Toy Run.”
So if you’re looking for a good cause to support, Ron would be happy to see you at their next event.
“I’d like to encourage everyone to come out, December 2nd and 3rd to Road Atlanta and help us with Santa’s Toy Run. Admission for two days is a toy valued at twenty dollars, or a Gift Card.”