Side-by-side ride benefits Special Olympics



On her way to Luke’s Country Inn early Saturday afternoon, Misty Poole received word from her husband, Terry, that it was getting crowded outside the restaurant.

Side-by-sides were filling the parking lot, and Misty said her excitement was building.

That hit another level when she pulled up to the restaurant.

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"I pulled up and I was in tears," she said. "I couldn’t believe that everybody came today for this reason. They came here, a little place in Dudleytown, to do this."

Around 70 side-by-sides with more than 300 people showed up to participate in the inaugural side-by-side ride to benefit Special Olympics Indiana Jackson County.

What amazed the Pooles even more was that after the five-hour, 80-mile ride around Jackson County, many people stayed around Luke’s Country Inn to buy drinks and food, listen to music by Fred Elam and Steve Plasse outside, socialize and enjoy a bonfire.

"They haven’t left. They are still here," Terry said while standing outside Saturday night with people all around the property.

To top it off, $1,000 was donated to Special Olympics Indiana Jackson County. Special Olympics Indiana is a not-for-profit organization that provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in more than 20 Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities ages 8 and up.

The local group offers a weekly unified fitness club and several sports, including softball, corn toss, basketball, track and field and horseshoes. Fundraisers are conducted throughout the year so athletes don’t have to pay to participate.

Devin Stuckwisch, a member of the Special Olympics county management team, was among those participating in Saturday’s ride.

"We figured out that Misty wanted to do it, and then I was like, ‘Oh yeah. That’s right close to home. Let’s do it,’" he said.

He was impressed with the turnout.

"It was awesome," Stuckwisch said. "I had no idea how many people were coming. I came in about 1:30, and there were already 33, 34 sitting here. It was pretty cool."

Stuckwisch rounded up several family members and friends for the ride.

"A big portion of this was my family," he said. "My family does this a lot, so it’s pretty fun. The social aspect, we all get to hang out, have a good time, everybody gets to join. Not all close family. Distant family, friends get to come."

The Pooles opened Luke’s Country Inn in April and named it after Misty’s nephew, Luke Ramsey, who was born with Down syndrome a couple of years ago.

They decided to give a portion of the money raised from sales of Luke’s Country Inn T-shirts and money raised from ceiling signatures to Special Olympics Indiana Jackson County.

When the couple decided to host a side-by-side ride, they immediately knew they wanted to help Special Olympics.

"Now, it’s like everything we want to do is for this cause and for Luke," she said.

"Because of Luke. It’s all because of Luke, absolutely," Terry said.

The Pooles promoted Saturday’s ride at their restaurant and on social media, and they relied on local farmer Mark Sawyer to help spread the word.

"We got together with Mark Sawyer because he’s a local farmer and because he knows everyone, and so we’re like, ‘We want to have a side-by-side ride,’ so he took the lead on making the route," Misty said.

The ride drew mostly local people but also had participants from Jonesville, North Vernon and Bedford.

"We were expressing it was a family event," Terry said. "That’s what made it even better."

The route traveled on backroads through Freetown, Medora, Vallonia, Tampico and other Jackson County communities.

"It was amazing. When you’re on the ride, it’s hard to express it just to see so many of the side-by-sides in a line," Terry said.

"It’s just so beautiful," Misty said.

When they returned to Dudleytown, Misty began counting the donations. It was only $10 per side-by-side to participate, but she said many people donated more.

She called her sister, Kristy Ramsey, who is Luke’s mother, and shared the final tally.

"My sister was in tears. She couldn’t believe it," Misty said. "Everybody was very giving today. Everybody’s response was they didn’t realize how big this was going to be. We just cannot believe all of the side-by-sides that came."

The Pooles already are excited about doing the ride again next year.

"It’s the first year, so you never know what to expect. Now that we’ve done it, I’m sure word is going to spread, and next year when we do it, it will be much bigger," Terry said.

"We didn’t realize it would be this big," Misty said. "Next year, it’s going to be even bigger and better."

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For information about Special Olympics Indiana Jackson County, visit

Donations may be mailed to P.O. Box 585, Seymour, IN 47274. Checks can be made payable to Special Olympics Indiana Jackson County.


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