VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The disco ball has been dimmed inside Haygood Skating Center in on Plantation Ferry Road in Virginia Beach, but that doesn't mean it's lights out for owner Brandon Stokes.
"It's a labor of love,” Stokes explains.
He's here on a Monday, a night the place is normally closed, to give back.
"Usually at a skating rink or a bowling alley there's a lot of people, the music's real loud, the lights are going crazy. There's a lot of kids or young adults that can't go into places like that," he says.
So, he created a sensory-friendly skate event, where families with a loved one on the spectrum can enjoy an evening out, without worry. There are no strobe lights or no blaring songs from the DJ booth. This event is the latest in a series of fundraisers and giveaways that has customers rolling into this neighborhood landmark.
"We're trying to reinvent how to still continue to give back to the community. We're just trying to out think ourselves, sometimes," he added.
When Stokes and his wife bought this business a few years back, this wasn't his first go around the rink. As it turns out, he has a lot of history inside this building.
"Dude. If you would have told me at 15 years old, that before you were 40, you were going to own the place that you hung out at every weekend, almost your entire life? I would have said, 'Sign me up,'" Stokes exclaimed.
That’s what makes this business personal for Stokes. That neighborhood kid, all grown up, is now investing in the next generation.
"If we show the community that it's not all about that dollar right now, once all of this gets behind us, they're going to remember that the skating rink was here still trying to do what we can do to help."