Motorcycle Poker run to support military families

Master Cpl. Erin Doyle

By Staff

Legal – It’s been two years since Master Cpl. Erin Doyle was killed in southern Afghanistan. Doyle, who was with the 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, was killed Aug. 11, 2008 when insurgents attacked his command outpost in the Panjwaii district. It was his third tour in Afghanistan. But while the soldier and the man may be gone, his memory lives on in the hearts of many, including some who didn’t know him all that well.

One such man is retired soldier Ollie Weeks, who wanted to do something to honour Master Cpl. Doyle’s memory, supporting military families at the same time. Last year Weeks held a memorial motorcycle poker run in Doyle’s honour, an event that raised more than $2,000 for the Christmas Hamper Campaign in support of military families.

“Although I didn’t know him personally, I had met him and talked with him and saw him around town,” Weeks said, adding that Doyle was a runner who often ran to Legal Corner. “He was a big, imposing kind of guy that you noticed. It looked like it would be easier for him to run over you than around you, although I later found out he was more of a gentle giant.”

Weeks said he got the idea for the poker run after attending a similar event in Calgary for another fallen soldier. After approaching Doyle’s family and getting their approval, Weeks said he approached some key businesses to get behind the cause.

“Royal Canadian Legions in Morinville, Gibbons and Redwater, along with Maurice, owner of the Legal Hotel and Kilroy’s Pub and George Prefontaine of Legal Motors were big supporters in the first year,” he said. “They are still behind the cause and have been joined by other key business people, notably Richard Cyr at Target Products Ltd., Maurice Chevalier at Bumper to Bumper, DeChamplian farms and Diamond International Trucks.”

With the support of the Doyle family, local businesses and the riders themselves, motorcyclists from around the region are set to gather in Legal Sept. 4 for the second annual Erin Doyle Memorial Poker Run, an opportunity to remember a fallen soldier and to once again raise money for military families.

Weeks said the run’s chosen charity is the Christmas Hamper Campaign put on by Our Lady of Loretto Chapel at the Edmonton Garrison.

“Padres Bev Keane-Newhook and Denis Newhook were happy to receive any funds to better allow them to serve military families in need during the holiday season, when so many families are under financial hardship,” weeks said, adding they are hoping to match or surpass the $2,000 raised last year.

But in addition to helping families at Christmas, the riders have an opportunity to win some money along the way. The poker run is offering a top prize of $1,000 for four aces, as well as $250 for the best hand, and an additional $100 for the runner up. There will also be prizes for the best bike, longest distance travelled and loudest bike as well as a 50/50 draw.

The poker run is set to depart from Kilroy’s Pub in Legal at 1 p.m. and there will be stopovers in Gibbons, Redwater and Thorhild.

For more information or to register call 780-961-7612.

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  1. Good story, but explain what a “poker” run is earlier, also that this involves motorcycles (not running).

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