HIGH SPRINGS – Since 2013, the North Florida Presidents Council (NFPC) and the Military Vets Motorcycle Club has held the annual Poker Run motorcycle charity event. The ride is to raise money for Herry’s Kids Pediatric Services.
Each year motorcycle riders gather at the Gainesville Harley Davidson store to begin the charity ride. All motorcycle riders are welcome, not just club members. Each rider brings a new toy and pays a $10 entry fee, or $20 without a toy. The ride begins at 10 a.m. There are five locations for participants to stop during the day, and at each spot they will be given a playing card. The final location is the High Springs Lions Club, which also helps sponsor the event.
Each rider will have collected five cards, and the highest poker hand wins a cash prize. The toys and money raised from this event go to Herry’s Kids, a nonprofit pediatric hospice that serves 12 counties in Florida. Herry’s Kids Pediatric Services provides specialized services to children and teens with life-threatening illnesses and offers grief support and therapeutic camps to young people who have experienced a loss. Herry’s is a program with the Hospice of Citrus and The Nature Coast, a nonprofit organization that offers free programs and compassionate end-of-life services for terminally ill children and teens as well as their families.
This year, the NFPC was not involved and the Military Vets MC club (MVMC) and the High Springs Lions Club took over all duties to keep the charity event alive. Although this led to a smaller turnout and less money raised, both these organizations felt it was important to keep the event going to raise the money to help the cause.
Related News- Youngstown Motorcycle Club Turns 82
On Jan. 29, members of the Lions Club and the MVMC gathered at the The Diner in High Springs to present a check for $8,200 to representatives of the Hospice of Citrus and The Nature Coast. A popular restaurant, The Diner has hosted the check presentation for the past three years and is one of over 20 businesses that that helps sponsor the event by contributing funds or services to make the Poker Run successful.
In the past, the Diner has arranged for a band and beer bar outside on their patio for the event. The cold rainy weather this year took its toll on attendance, and the event was moved inside with a much smaller but dedicated crowd.
For both the MVMC and the High Springs Lions Club, service to others and helping those in need is an important part of their mission, and the Poker Run represents the positive qualities of humanity.
Although the poker run could be considered a good day for a long ride and celebrations, the riders participate for another reason. The annual Poker Run is their chance to make life a little better for critically ill children and bring them joy while letting them know there are others that care.