A Jonesville woman who received local donations to help sponsor her trip into a national wheelchair competition but skipped the trip may be off the hook for allegedly pocketing some of the money unless local law enforcement steps in, according to a spokesperson for the state’s Attorney General.
Ashley Macemore, 22, was crowned at a North Carolina pageant on April 6 in Asheville receiving the title Ms. Wheelchair North Carolina.
After the crowning, Macemore set a fundraising goal of $2,500 to offset expenses related to competing in the Ms. Wheelchair America competition.
In May of 2012, Macemore indicated in news reports that she had surpassed the $2,500 goal — mostly from local donations — and still had additional fundraisers in development.
In a July interview, Macemore’s grandmother, Betty Baity, who is also her landlord, indicated that Ashley ran into circumstances that caused her not to attend the national competition.
“She never made it,” said Baily. “Her phone was stolen, and all the pageant contact numbers were in it. Then Ashley told me that she lost her crown because they (pageant officials) couldn’t get ahold of her.”
Baity said that Macemore ran into car problems too, but is now driving a van.
After discovering Macemore never made the trip, donors wanted their donations returned.
One of the donors was Jim Ipock of Elkin. Ipock said he is a resident on a fixed income and simply wanted to help Macemore get to nationals. Ipock filed a complaint with the state after communication between he and Macemore went idle.
The state investigated the matter.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Ipock gave his money directly to the Ms. Wheelchair NC winner, Ashley Macemore, and not the organization itself (running the competition). We strongly encourage consumers to give donations only to reputable charitable organizations, and to never make out donations directly to an individual,” said Noelle Talley, public information officer for Attorney General Roy Cooper.
In the investigation, the state learned that the charity behind Macemore did not have proper licenses.
“Our office spoke with Brandee Ponder, the head of Ms. Wheelchair NC-America, Inc., a North Carolina nonprofit. At the time, the organization didn’t have a license to solicit donations from the Secretary of State’s office and we recommended that they contact the Secretary of State’s office to start the licensure process. We have made the Secretary of State’s office aware of it, and they are following up with the organization,” said Talley.
According to Talley, any further investigation on the Macemore matter will be up to local law enforcement.
Jonesville Police Chief Kevin Reece on Wednesday said that Macemore lives just outside of the town limits and any investigation would be in the hands of the Yadkin County Sheriff’s Office.
A spokesperson for the Yadkin County Sheriff’s Office said that no active complaint has been filed with the office at this time.
Macemore could not be reached for comment.
Anthony Gonzalez may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @newsgonz.