Motorcycle Poker Run raises money for military families

A rider sets off on the road during the Erin Doyle Memorial Poker Run Saturday. $2,200 was raised at the annual event to remember fallen soldier Erin Doyle. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

By Stephen Dafoe

Legal – Bikers from throughout Sturgeon County and beyond gathered at Kilroy’s Pub in Legal Saturday to honour the memory of Master Cpl. Erin Doyle, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2008, by participating in a poker run to raise money for Loretto Chapel’s the Christmas Hamper Campaign at the Edmonton Garrison, a charity that helps military families.

Eighty-two riders participated in the Second Annual Erin Doyle Memorial Poker Run Sept. 4, picking their first card in Legal before hitting the roads to finish their poker hands in Morinville, Gibbons, Redwater and Thorhild.

Volunteer Ruthann Weeks holds out the deck for a rider to select a card at the poker run’s starting point, Kilroy’s Pub in Legal.
Organizer Ollie Weeks, who was inspired to start the poker run after seeing a similar event in Calgary for another fallen Canadian Soldier, said he was pleased with the turnout, the number of riders being on par with the run’s inaugural year.

While the number of riders may have been similar to the first year, the funds raised were higher. More than $2,200 was raised for the charitable program this year through the $20 registration fee and 50/50 draw, roughly a ten per cent increase from last year’s totals.

Weeks said he was pleased with the support of local businesses, organizations and volunteers that helped make the ride possible. Weeks said Kilroy’s Pub not only put up $1,000 in prize money for a hand with four aces but the pub’s owner had personally motivated him to put the event on for a second year. Additionally de Champlain Farms, Bumper to Bumper, International Trucks, Target Products, Miller Beer, Legal Motors and the Town of Legal all contributed to make the event possible.

Although the ride drew many riders from throughout the County, not all of the bikers were local. Edmontonian Ronald Rickman, a long-time military man, was moved by the reason for the bike ride and brought along seven fellow riders to Saturday’s event.

“I was up working out at the base and I noticed the sign,” Rickman said. “He [Erin Doyle] was a military guy and I spent 28 years in the military. I told all the rest of the people I chum around with, ‘You know, get your ass out to Legal.’”

In addition to honouring the memory of a fallen soldier and raising money to help military families, participants also had the opportunity to win some prizes.

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Although no rider was able to draw four aces along the trail, Ken Lukianchuk of Legal had the best hand with four kings and a jack. Lukianchuk won $250 for his hand. Rob Michaud of Edmonton drew three aces and earned $100 for his luck. Both cash prizes were donated by Kilroy’s Pub.

The event also had a prize for the longest distance travelled. Bill Golden from Arizona took the distinction back south along with a barbecue set as a prize.

Tom Gutek of Moose Hill (near Thorhild) picked up a $100 gift certificate from the Morinville Bumper-to-Bumper for having the loudest bike, metering 128.3 decibels.

A rider burns a little rubber before heading down the highway. - Stephen Dafoe Photo
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