With 100-plus registered boats and overwhelmingly rave reviews, any notions that a two-year hiatus would slow the momentum of the fourth annual 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run in Clayton, N.Y., were immediately dispelled on that late-July weekend. As organizing committee member Renee Lalonde said, the happening returned “with a vengeance.” That was further evidenced yesterday by the event’s $102,000 donation to Make-A-Wish of Central New York, its primary beneficiary.
Captured here with her father, Matt, Natalie Gondek is Make-A-Wish of Central New York recipient No. 2,000 thanks to the participants, sponsors, organizers and volunteers of the 2022 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run.
It is the largest donation the four-year-old event has made to the nonprofit charity, which has chapters around the country.
The amount of the donation has particular significance in that proceeds from the 2019 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run enabled Make-A-Wish of Central New York to grant wish No. 2,000. That wish took the form of a Barbie-themed camper for five-year-old Natalie Gondek, who has been battling Lymphoblastic Leukemia since she was two years old and just completed her first full-year out of treatment.
With Gondek and her parents among them, Lalonde and her fellow organizers presented the check to Make-A-Wish of Central New York representatives yesterday at Clayton Municipal Marina.
“It was awesome,” said Lalonde, whose husband, Ken, also is on committee. “There were tears shed, for sure.”
(From left) Dressed in their blue event-branded polos, Bobby Cantwell, Courtney Rutherford, Alexandra Buduson, Jeff Morgan, Ken Lalonde and Renee Lalonde presented a $102,000 check yesterday to representatives from the Make-A-Wish of Central New York organization.
And though the organizers are still tallying the totals, they’ll be donating funds to River Hospital in nearby by Alexandria Bay, N.Y., which offers a treatment program for veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and traumatic brain injuries, as well as local first-responder organizations in the area.
As he has since the first 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run, Upstate New York’s Kelly O’Hara (right) stepped up to give rides to Make-A-Wish kids in his 36-foot MTI catamaran. Event photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
“Every aspect of this event is simply magical,” said Diane Kuppermann, the president and chief executive officer of Make-A-Wish Central New York, in a press release from the organization. “From the boat rides given to our wish kids on Saturday to the support of the Harbor Hotel, area businesses and sponsors, all striving to impact the critically ill kids we serve, we are forever grateful.”
Lalonde thanked everyone involved—participants, sponsors, volunteers and supporters—on the event’s Facebook page.
“We made our largest donation to Make-A-Wish Central New York yesterday, and it would not have been possible without everyone’s time, dedication and support,” she wrote. “We are beaming with pride.”
MTI’s Taylor Scism joined with her father, Randy, and the Wentzville, Mo., company’s Tom Stuart and Shaun Peters to provide boat rides for children in the Make-A-Wish program.
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