Bikers stage poker run to benefit No Kill Manatee

January 15, 2013 

In Manatee County, no kill and the mission are prevalent. No Kill Manatee County is becoming commonplace and grows in awareness each day, both locally and nationwide.

This past Saturday was just another great example as to how No Kill Manatee is building within our community. A couple of weeks ago, Rick Gatehouse contacted me with an idea to help the no-kill cause. How about a poker run to benefit No Kill Manatee? This was a great idea. This was new to us, but I knew it could be done.

The idea captured my attention while Rick went over the specifics. The event details were organized, but the word had to get out so this could be successful. Who knows unless you try? A large, well-known motorcycle event was taking place the coming weekend. Rick thought we could hand out flyers at that event, promoting ours. Great idea! Rick and a couple of our staff from Animal Services handed out about 1,000 flyers to perspective attendees to our event.

We were on our way. Rick Gatehouse set the ride path and coordinated the poker run with all the stops. Five businesses were mapped as stops and a new concept of picking up beans, instead of cards, at each stop helped reduce the number of volunteers needed. Several gift cards were donated from area restaurants, a one-day Harley Davidson rental and a long weekend stay at an Anna Maria resort were just a few of the available raffle items.

The ride started at Manatee River Harley Davidson. They were more than accommodating with the event. No Kill Manatee volunteers set up shop and dove right in. I wholeheartedly thank all of our volunteers who helped with this event because without them, this wouldn't have been possible. Their compassion

and dedication is second to none.

At the end of the sign-up phase, nearly 100 motorcycles and well over 100 poker hands were registered. Along with the registration, participants were able to purchase our No Kill Manatee T-shirts, bumper stickers and magnets.

Each rider was provided a map and the rules of the poker run. At each stop, a bean was to be picked up for each poker hand being played, with a different bean at each stop. Once the riders were ready, they rode on their own, with friends or made friends to ride with, which was very easy to do.

The first stop was Peggy's Corral, a well-known hangout for motorcyclists. After a bit of good conversation and socialization, we were off to the next stop. Riding to the beach was great. Traffic was not too bad and the weather couldn't have been better. Skinny's on Holmes Beach was ready for the group. All of us packed the place and met more new friends before riding on to Island Time in Bradenton Beach. The ride ended at O'Shucks on Cortez Road, where riders were met with music and barbecue.

Our great volunteers collected the beans, players picked their cards, and poker hands were made. While the line to turn in the beans got shorter, riders and others ate pork sliders and BLT's with beans and slaw. After all poker hands had been drawn, winners for the best hand and worse hand were announced. Even though the poker run had concluded, the party had just begun.

While this was an inaugural event, we are sure this will turn into an annual event. More than $2,000 was raised for the cause.

What a great event to help the impounded dogs and cats and our efforts to become No Kill in Manatee County. We can't thank the good people in Manatee County enough, from the volunteers who put this all together, helped with the event and making this come together, to the businesses who donated items and had their place as a stop on the run. Without all of you, this would not have been possible. What a successful event! Thank you, thank you.

If you never have to look into the eyes of a dog or cat and make a choice, you are lucky. One day, we all would like to be lucky too.

Check out Manatee County Animal Services on Facebook. Like us and share us with all your friends. Our web site has a wealth of information, including your new family member for adoption. Or call 941-742-5933 for information.

Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Bradenton Herald.

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