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Deer Dash Saturday benefits First Contact Addiction Ministry

A few months after his father’s death, Rick Bryson got a call from Greg Price, his old cross country coach. Price and other schoolteachers wanted to hold a 5k to raise money in honor of Thomas A. “Tommy” Bryson, who was murdered in July 2017.

Four-hundred runners turned out last fall for the first Deer Dash, kickstarting a fundraising campaign for a new basketball court at Mills River Town Park.
“We raised money for the basketball court,” he said. “We achieved that goal we said, Where can the money go?” from a second run.
Rick and his brother, Joey, said drugs clearly were part of the driver of the crime spree that resulted in the arrest of Phillip Michael Stroupe II for the murder of their father.
“We just said our father’s death was really linked to the opioid problem that Henderson County is going through,” Rick said. “The more we read about the opioid crisis not only in America but in Henderson County, it’s really bad. We want all the funds to go to that. That’s kind of become our mission.”
Others told them about First Contact Addiction Ministries, a nonprofit that is trying to combat opioid addiction through drug counseling. First Contact hopes to raise $3 million for a 45-bed drug rehab facility across from Mud Creek Baptist Church. (First Contact’s application for the facility goes before county Zoning Board of Adjustment this week.)
“We had several people tell us about Craig (Halford),” Bryson said.
After meeting with the the First Contact founder and president last spring, the Bryson decided to direct the proceeds of a second annual Deer Dash to the ministry.
The Thomas A. Memorial Deer Dash 5k is Saturday, Oct. 6, at Mills River Town Park, starting with a kids fun run at 9 a.m. The first 300 to sign up get an embroidered wool cap, something a hunter might wear. With deer season approaching, the Bryson brothers think about their father and his enthusiasm for hunting.
“Dad was a big hunter and obviously he passed that down to us, and we’re passing that on to our sons,” Rick said. “We thought that would be an appropriate name for the race. We’re hoping the community comes out and supports the cause.”
Registration is $35 for adults and $20 for children 10 and under. Register at