By Sabrina Bates
The annual event to raise money for a local family began nearly 10 years ago when members of the Sons of the American Legion squadron of Post #55 decided to put together a bike run and donate the proceeds to those in need. Since that first event, the Sons have lost one of their own and renamed their annual event in his memory. And each year, the annual Joey Guest Poker Run has grown into a regional event spanning two days of activities for people of all ages.
Guest was killed in a motorcycle accident three years into the annual Poker Run event. He served as sports editor of the Weakley County Press and was known throughout the community to always wear a smile. Since his untimely death, his family members have made it a point to spend their time volunteering for the annual Poker Run held in mid-August at the American Legion Post #55 in Martin.
After four months of round-the-clock planning, this year’s event will pack the house Friday and Saturday to benefit a local seven-year-old. Adam Harrison of Union City was diagnosed with autism and PANDAS when he was a toddler. PANDAS is a Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus. Currently, Harrison’s IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin) treatments are not covered by medical insurance and his parents, Gina and Shane Harrison, pay out-of-pocket expenses. The 9th annual Joey Guest Poker Run is a fundraiser for the Union City family to help cover medical and travel expenses.
The Poker Run event is more than just several motorcycles traveling from location to location drawing the best, or even worst, poker hands. This year’s event officially kicks off Friday with the 6th annual 5K Blackout Run. The 5K glow run is an opportunity for those interested in walking or running for the cause. Registration begins at 7 p.m. Friday at the Legion Post #55 on Central Street in Martin. The cost to participate is $25 per person, with the race set to begin at 8 p.m. The route will start at the Legion, go toward the Weldon Park in downtown Martin and cut around the Martin primary and elementary schools. Volunteers will serve as road guards, directing runners, handing out water and words of encouragement, while lighting the path for those on foot. Participants are encouraged to put on their sparkle and glow all out that night for the event. Teams of 10 or more pedestrians will receive a discount on their registration fees.
On Friday night, the award-winning S.A.L. cooking team will prepare sack dinners of hamburger, hot dogs, or chicken quarters and sides. Plates are available to any community member for $6 each that night.
Saturday will be a day filled with entertainment, food and auction items, as well as the Poker Run event.
“This year’s auction is shaping up to be one of the biggest auctions we’ve ever had,” S.A.L. Commander Kenny Park said. Last year’s two-day event raised more than $20,000. Organizers are hoping to surpass that amount this year. Businesses across the nation have been donating a little something for everyone from the North, South, East and West. Locally, businesses that have shown support in the past, along with those new to event, have pitched in a variety of silent and live auction items.
One of the biggest-ticket items for the Poker Run in the event’s history comes from Johnnie Garrett and G3 Boats. This year will feature a fishing boat and trailer for the live auction. There are also more than $1,200 in hot rod parts up for grabs with two Hypertech programmers, a throttle response programmer and a $500 gift certificate toward a pro cam. LED light bars, Harley Davidson motorcycle parts, JEGS racing memorabilia and items from the television show, “My Classic Car,” are also on this year’s auction list.
Hunting and fishing trips, a one-hour plane ride and a commercial deep fryer will be auctioned Saturday evening. Businesses have pitched in vehicle detailing buckets, food baskets, die-cast toys, tool kits, classic car books, CD’s, patriotic items, jackets, items to beat the heat, replica sports rings and antiques for the silent and live auctions. The list of items up for bids will also appeal to the women of the house with home décor, doors provided by Kohler, prints by local photographer and Guest’s sister Christel Laney, quilts and hair care products available.
Items can be viewed on the Facebook link: The 9th Annual Joey Guest Poker Run. Community members do not have to participate in the Poker Run to bid on auction items. Silent auction items will be on display throughout the day beginning at 10 a.m. in the dining hall of the American Legion Post #55 in Martin. Cutoff to bid on silent auction items is at 6 p.m. when the live auction kicks off with Jake Vincent.
Chances will be sold throughout the day for a Del-Ton AR-15 gun and a 50/50 cash drawing. There will be two $500 winners chosen in the cash drawing.
Motorcycles will take to the road Saturday morning when kick stands go up at 11 a.m. in the parking lot of Post #55 after a blessing of the bikes. All vehicles are welcome to participate in the Poker Run. Registration begins at 10 a.m. The cost is $15 and $20 with a passenger. Participants will make the following stops along the route — Abernathy’s in Union City; Lenny’s in Fulton, Kentucky; JW Brewskies in Gleason; Big T’s place in Sharon; and they will pick up their final poker card at the Legion. Last bike in at 5 p.m. Best Hand will receive a cash prize of $100 and $75 cash will be given to the Worst Hand. A Bike Show and Jeep Show will take place at the Legion beginning at 5 p.m. with the following categories receiving awards — Mayor’s Choice, Family Choice and S.A.L. Choice.
Throughout the day, the S.A.L. cooking team will be offering barbecue plates for $6 each. Families are welcome to bring their kids out to the Legion that day to enjoy an inflatable water slide and bounce house. Beginning at 4:30 p.m., the Oxford Street Band will provide live music until 7 p.m. in the lounge. Following them will be Mandy Vixen and Gas Station Chicken taking the stage from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m.
From food to entertainment to unique auction items, the two-day event will provide a little something for everyone while raising money for a local family.
Park also announced the groups plans to feed all local first responders on shift for those two days — EMT’s and members of the police and fire departments. They are encouraged to stop by the local Legion post and have some grub courtesy of the S.A.L.s and Legion family.
“They do such a good job taking care of us, especially during this event, we should help take care of them and say thank you for all they do,” Park added.
For additional information, contact Park at (731) 514-5057. Auction items will be accepted until the day of the event for anyone wishing to donate to the cause to help raise money for the Harrison family.