GALAX, Va. (WDBJ7) A piece of Galax history closed over the weekend, but not without one last skate down memory lane for a good cause.
Staff opened the doors of the Galax Roller Land to help raise money for its owner, who recently suffered a stroke.
"It was great," said Donnie Ramey.
"Just like the old days," said Logan Ramey, an employee.
"Heartwarming," said Dawn Isom.
For a few hours Saturday the crowd inside the Galax Roller Land was just like it used to be. Packed.
"It was a bittersweet day. It was really hard," said Dawn Isom.
"There were tears. Lots of tears," Logan said.
Cousins Donnie Ramey and Dawn Isom spent many hours here since it open 38 years ago.
"Since we were about five or six years old," Isom said.
"My dad did the plumbing and wiring on the building when it was built and we've been coming ever since," Donnie said.
The dozens of skaters that filled the rink were here for a reason, to skate one last time.
Owner Ronald Vaught suffered a stroke just after Thanksgiving this year and decided it's time to close the rink for good.
"He's in a nursing home but they're only going to keep him for 20 days," Donnie said.
His staff, close friends, and fans of the business had other plans. They organized one last skate not just for old times' sake but to raise money to pay for medical needs for the owner.
"This has been their life for 38 years," Isom said.
The event only lasted a few hours but between the benefit skate and an auction, the supporters were able to raise more than $14,000 for the owner.
"Hundreds of hot dogs. Sold a lot of hot dogs, tater chips and drips," Donnie said.
The skating rink will soon be appraised and sold, but the memories and support from Saturday will last forever.
The owner is spending time in a nursing home now. Staff and friends say he will need continued support. They're continuing to ask for donations to help support a family who had a big impact in this community.
Money or notes of encouragement may be sent to Ronald and Linda Vaught, P.O. Box 843, Galax, Va 24333.
Or people may call 276-233-5884 with questions.