Grace pastor riding for personal, church goals

  • Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Submitted Photo The Rev. Jim Dennis, of Grace United Methodist Church, will be cycling for a cause.

The Rev. Jim Dennis of Grace United Methodist Church is cycling for a cause – Curly’s Court.

Dennis will participate in The Assault on Mt. Mitchell on Monday. The 103-mile ride climbs 12,000 feet and ends 6,578 feet above sea level. It starts in Spartanburg and will end in Mt. Mitchell, North Carolina.

The church needs $140,000 to renovate its gym. They currently have $24,000, which was raised from the church’s annual wild game dinner and a gift that was given by the late Dr. Curly Watson’s family. Dennis has asked for church members to pledge whatever they are able to toward the renovation if he finishes the trek in under 10 hours. This is his fourth and final try, with the past three finishes being 10:26:54, 11:22:41 and 10:53:50.

“We played the local church league championship here against Trinity on the Hill UMC and the young boys were slipping and sliding all over the place,” Dennis said. “The floor is nothing more than painted concrete. It could be refinished but that only lasts a few years – so we decided it was time to install a more modern and somewhat ‘softer,’ more playable floor for multiple activities. We priced those options between $25,000 and $60,000 depending on the floor’s construction. After Dr. Watson passed and Mrs. Watson asked was next on the church ‘need list,’ I told her about the floor. So now we found ourselves with $24,000 total of donated and saved funds and began to look around at making the gym more useful.”

Dennis joked that if the goals were adjustable not only could they have children’s basketball camps, but even he could dunk.

“Digging deeper we found that the roof needs some repair work,” he said. “No one wants to install a new floor and then have it leaked on the first rain. We also needed to replace some very old and inefficient HVAC units and much of the paint is peeling – so repainting is in order. Then there’s the old score board which needs replacing. We started out to replace the court to honor Dr. Curly Watson which is especially fitting because he was a coach and teacher at Edgefield High School before he was a physician. It soon became apparent that much of the gym maintenance had been pushed to the future – the future is now.”

Dennis also said that no matter what, this will be his final bike ride on Mt. Mitchell.

“I want to honor Dr. Watson and I want to bring awareness in a fun way to our need to fund this project to completion,” he said. “At age 56, I also need some incentive to ride from Spartanburg to the top of Mt. Mitchell faster than my previous three attempts. I am hoping all three things can be accomplished on May 19.”

Scott Rodgers is the news editor at The North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since 2013. Follow him on Twitter @NAStarRodgers.

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