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Troy Poker Run set for Saturday

The Troy Poker Run is the hand to play Saturday and all of the "chips" will benefit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pike County.

Registration begins at 9 a.m. at Ward's Yamaha on U.S. Highway 231

south. The fee is $10 for the first hand and $5 for each extra hand with a payout of $100 for first place, $75 for second and $50 for third. The registration fee includes a barbecue lunch at the end of the "run."

The annual event is sponsored by the Troy Southern Cruisers and was started as an effort to support the youth of Pike County.

David Smith said his "bikers" are strong supporters of organizations that benefit children.

"Southern Cruisers is a national organization with 400 chapters and 18,000 members. Through the national organization, we raise money to benefit St. Jude's Children's Hospital. We wanted to also support a youth organization on the local level, so we organized the Troy Poker Run a couple of years ago."

Smith said the name of the event might be slightly misleading.

"It's really not a run," he said. "It's a relaxing 95-mile motorcycle/motorbike ride through the countryside. The last bike out is at 10:30 Saturday morning and the last bike in is at 1 o'clock."

Along the route there will be four checkpoints and riders will draw a card at each point and record it on a check sheet. When they completed the Poker Run, they will get to draw a fifth card to complete their hand. The rider with the best hand will be the winner.

Smith said The Poke Run is a lot of fun and the money raised supports a great organization.

Tennie Jarrell, program coordinator, said Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pike County serves children through its community outreach program, the Paths Program and tutoring services.

"We have 12 children who have been matched with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, but we have a large number of children who want to be matched," she said. "So, the need for Big Brothers and Big Sisters is great. We don't want any of these to think they have been forgotten so we provide activities for all of them. They have attended athletic events at Troy State and recently went to the Step Show there. We have plans for them to attend a play at the university in April. We don't want any child to feel forgotten."

The monies raised by the Troy Poker Run will help fund activities for all the children who want and need Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Jamarion and Quintarius are two of the lucky children. They have been matched with Big Brothers and are enjoying the rewards of the relationships.

"My Big Brother, Carl Simmons, takes me to basketball games and out to eat," Jamarion said. "We play games and have a lot of fun. He helps me with my homework so I can do better in school."

Quintarius gets to go horseback riding with his Big Brother Sean Blum.

"He lives in Montgomery and he had horses and I get to ride," Quintarius said. "That's the most fun. We play board games and get pizza - and do homework."

Quintarius, laughingly, said doing homework is "sort of" fun but it pays dividends.

"My grades used to be like 80 or something," he said. "Now I get 90s. If I work harder I can get

- like maybe 100 - maybe."

With the large number of children in need of Big Brothers Big Sisters and the programs offered through the organization, the Troy Poker Run takes on special meaning and great purpose.

Anyone with wheels of any kind is invited to participate in the Troy Poker Run Saturday, April 5 at Ward's Yamaha.