Take a Gamble for Charity

I may safely claim to be the least qualified person to attend The Blazin' Hot Poker Run for Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Texas. I rode on the back of a motorcycle once, and I held on so tight that I bruised the ribs of the driver. I drove a mini-motorcycle by myself once and did fine until plowing into the side of a brick house. Likewise, I have no clue how to play poker. Therefore, on Saturday, I will be forced to rely upon my keen observation and cheering skills.

Those facts aside, The Blazin' Hot Poker Run for Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Texas will be unique when it comes to experiencing that staple of Americana known as a bike rally. Whether they own a shovel-head, flat-head, knuckle-head or pan-head, these bikers know what they're doing, they do it well and they're doing it for a cool cause. The charity is indeed a great one, and, with more than 5,000 riders expected to participate, we can only assume the motorcycles en masse will earn some serious funds for the Bigs and their kids. Harley-Davidson and other motorcycle riders get one poker card when they register for the race. Then they must go to three other destinations to collect one more card at each location before heading to Texas Motor Speedway for the final card.

After collecting the five cards, the participants have their poker hands and will play for a first-place prize of $2,000, second-place prize of $1,000 and third prize of $500. Monetary prizes are at stake, but--in the true style of Big Brothers Big Sisters--everyone will win a little something just for participating. Live music, drawings, games and the chance to take laps on the track await participants as they return from their tour.

Most important, all this supports a charity that works with more than 1,500 children across North Texas who because of the Big involvement are statistically less inclined to use illegal drugs and alcohol and are half as likely to skip school. So far, all this sounds like enough reason to wear black leather in the Texas summertime, but it gets better.

There's also live music. Yes, the day encompasses the coolness of Easy Rider, the distinct bad-assness of chaps, a heightened sense of good intent and a free concert. So tip your helmets to featured performer Jerry Jeff Walker, who will play the last chord. The Crawfish and Custom Made will open the show, and the legend himself will play out the night.

If nothing more than observation tickles your non-biker fancy, think of the spectacle that will be the contestants rumbling into the speedway as their last destination. No less should be expected than an astounding roar of engines and a hugely successful Big event.

After the run and during the concert, the Speedway Club hosts a gala with a theme of Harley-Davidson, no less. Tickets for the gala are separate from the Poker Run admittance and include dinner, music, a silent auction and a fashion show. It'll be a touch more quiet than the day's festivities and dressed to impress, but no less spirited. But, still, we venture this: It'll be a Hog Heaven.

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Merritt Martin
Contact: Merritt Martin

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