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Mashantucket - In the latest gesture of local support for Brenda and Jeremy Perry, a group of friends drove their pickup trucks from Richmond, R.I., to Foxwoods Sunday, raising about $1,000.
Calling it a called it a "convoy for care," Greg Whipple, 22, of North Stonington and his large group of truck-enthusiast friends did the same thing last year after a 6-year-old Salem boy died in a woodchipper accident. Donate $20, ride together down a set route, and congregate at the end to present the proceeds to the family.
Whipple said he decided to round up the gang again for the Perrys, of North Stonington, who lost their 2-year-old and 6-month-old sons in February when Brenda's mother shot and killed them before turning the gun on herself.
Whipple's brother went to high school with Brenda Perry, he said.
"I figured, there's something we could do to help," he said. "Something that we all love to do is drive our trucks."
Whipple, who works as a structural designer at Electric Boat, set up a Facebook group a week or two after the deaths of Alton and Ashton. On Sunday, the truck drivers showed up in spades.
Just before 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, a column of about 40 pickups - and a diesel sanitation truck for good measure - pulled off of Route 2 and filed neatly into a cordoned-off section of the Foxwoods employee parking lot. Each had a blue ribbon tied around the antenna.
They started at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Richmond, R.I., wending their way down the hills and highways, escorted by four state police troopers from both Rhode Island and Connecticut, and ended in the parking lot just a couple of miles away from where the boys died.
The mood afterward was celebratory as the drivers and friends stood around the lot in the sunshine, admiring each other's wheels.
The Perrys were among them - Jeremy on crutches from a recent knee surgery, and Brenda looking content in a teal lace v-neck and jeans, chatting with friends and clutching a 10-week-old black pit bull named Ava.
She bought the puppy to have something to nurture, she said - something other than another child.
Brenda said she's always liked trucks, and recently bought a white Dodge Ram, which she and Jeremy rode in with the convoy. She drove.
"I love this," she said, looking out at the crowd, grateful for the lighthearted show of support from her neighbors. "This is just a good, fun time."