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June 06, 2007

More than 450 motorcyclists combined the scenery of rural Paso Robles with poker and philanthropy Sunday, then enjoyed a barbecue for good measure.

Paso Robles Porch Monkeys MC sponsored the fourth annual Poker Run, a 50-mile loop through the back roads of Paso Robles with stops at five checkpoints. Proceeds from the event were split between the Mooseheart Foundation, a facility that cares for children whose families are unable to support them, and the Boys and Girls Club of North County.

“We’re just a charity-minded group that likes to get together, ride and have fun,” said Danny Barry, vice president of the Porch Monkeys. “We’re just trying to make some money for the kids. That’s what it’s all about.”

He expected to raise $40,000 through entry fees, meal sales, raffle tickets and a silent auction. That would double last year’s total, but riders said the event was worth the price.

“I had a great time. I’ll do it again next year,” said Jim Cooley, participating in the Poker Run for the first time. “They kept you busy with all the stops. I’d never seen Adelaida School, so that was really interesting.”

Participants picked up a card from each checkpoint — Elkhorn Saloon, Rabbit Ridge Winery, Adelaida Schoolhouse and Thunderbolt Junction Winery — then completed their hands at the Paso Robles Moose Lodge, where they ate Santa Maria-style barbecue and listened to local band Triple Shot.

After traveling along nearly deserted roads for much of the trip, which took many riders more than three hours because of extended stops, the Moose Lodge was packed with people and events.

Many stopped to admire the prize that awaited the winner of the raffle, which required a $100 ticket to enter. An anonymous member of the Porch Monkeys donated a custom chopper called a Ground Pounder that established itself as the center of attention despite several bikes for sale and participants’ rides filling the parking lot on 26th Street and the Boys and Girls Club parking lot across the street.

About half the motorcycles featured two riders, and Mark and Tracy McConnell even brought along their daughter Lucy.

“It’s great,” Mark said. “It’s the first time we took our whole family riding.”
Guylean Smith of The Haircut Shop helped organize the event, which she called very successful.
“The community just comes together when it’s for the kids,” she said.

Barry put together the first Poker Run 17 years ago, gathering 20 riders and $1,500, but he said the event ran out of steam and stopped for several years until Michelle Christensen reinvigorated it as a charity four years ago.

“She made it what it is,” Barry said. “It’s really taken off now.”

Original article here.

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