WINTERVILLE, N.C. — Robbie’s Clubhouse is putting on a kickball tournament at Sara Law Softball Complex in Winterville on Saturday.

The event will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 4801 Reedy Branch Rd. in Winterville.

The kickball tournament is being used to raise money for Robbie’s Clubhouse, a non-profit organization helping kids and adults with special needs in the community. The money raised will go towards the building of a recreation center for kids and adults with special needs to hangout and socialize in a safe space.

Co-Founder Robert O’Neal started Robbie’s Clubhouse with his wife for their son Robbie, who has Down syndrome and others with similar needs.

“We were sitting at a specialized recreation bowling and one of the guys was talking about how he was going to meet one of his friends at the mall and I’m like, ‘There’s no game room, what can you do?’ He said, ‘Go to the food court.’ So then we started thinking, there’s nowhere for kids or adults with special needs to hangout, so we started this non-profit.”

Robert O’Neal, Co-Founder of Robbie’s Clubhouse
(Robbie’s Clubhouse photo

O’Neal tells 9OYS, “Pitt County has a large amount of special needs people who live in this county alone, not just in the Eastern part of the state. So when you look at all the rec centers that all the towns around here have, there’s none for a child with special needs.”

The rec center would cater specifically to those with special needs. O’Neal says they would include specialized recreation equipment and sensory rooms, even modifying some equipment like a foosball table for example, adding bigger feet and bigger handles so that individuals have an easier and safer time playing games.

One of the partnerships Robbie’s Clubhouse has is with East Carolina University and other athletic organizations to send families with special needs to sporting events for free. In 2020, they gave away over 350 tickets to families so they could take a person with special needs to any sporting events at ECU, Kinston Wood Ducks and East Carolina Motor Speedway.

“You know you take a child with special needs, a lot of the time you don’t even know if you’re going to get that child out of the house that day. You might get them out of the house, get them in the car, go somewhere, and they won’t get out. That’s how we came up with the idea of the tickets. ECU works real well with us to where they will place the family where they need to be in the stadium for that child. Visually impaired, handicapped, epileptic they will put up where they can lay them down, you know where EMS can get to them quick.”

Robert O’Neal, Co-Founder of Robbie’s Clubhouse

This year, Robbie’s Clubhouse is giving away over $3,500 in raffle and silent auction gifts to event-goers. All who attend the event will get a raffle ticket at the door, more can be purchased inside the tournament.

Raffle prizes include things like ECU football tickets, Men & Women’s basketball game tickets, gift cards to Walmart, Tie Breakers, Chick-fil-A, Chili’s, Fresh Vibes, Zaxby’s, Angus Grill, Long Horn, and much more!

Sign up on Eventbrite to play. Attendance is free. Donations and sponsorships will be accepted at the gate.