Thanks to a substantial group of local sponsors, 75 enthusiastic performance boaters and the dedicated team at Big Thunder Marine in Lake Ozark, Mo., the 14th annual Support Our Troops Poker Run raised a significant amount of money once again for H.E.R.O.E.S. Care, the Fenton, Mo.-based program that “provides support for members of all branches of the military and their families through pre-deployment, deployment, family reintegration and post-deployment.”
According to Jon Jerome of H.E.R.O.E.S. Care, 35 military members were able to participate in Friday’s event on Lake of the Ozarks. And, according to Big Thunder Marine’s Jeremy Anderson, the event, which is still gathering and adding up donations, presented a check for more than $20,000 to Jerome
“Thanks to Big Thunder Marine for hosting another unbelievable day,” Jerome said. “I heard nothing but great stories from the troops who joined in the fun.”
Longtime participant Chad Prater, who owns a gorgeous 35 Outlaw from Baja Marine, called the run a “must-do event” for him and his crew.
“We had a great time—luckily the rain held out until about 6 p.m.,” said Prater, who added that he plans to participate in next month’s BFD Fun Run at the lake as well as the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout at the end of August. “We do the run every year. Anything we can do to help support a great cause such as the Support The Troops we’re all in.”
Check out the slideshow above for more images from the Support Our Troops Poker Run.
Mark Maasen of Poly Lift Boat Lifts, a dedicated sponsor of the event, said he never misses Support Our Troops Poker Run and called it one of his favorite happenings of the year.
“It was a really good event this year,” Maasen. “We even went without a boat. We sold ’Merica, our 34-foot Nor-Tech center console, because we have a new boat on order. We’re proud to be a sponsor of Support Our Troops.”
Joining Maasen and the Poly Lift team as sponsors and poker run stops of the annual event were Dog Days, Jay Enn Corporation, Dock Works, WIA Marine Insurance, Midwest Boat Party, Pro DeZigns, Bob’s No Wake Zone, Coconuts, Lake Burger, Tap & Grill, Neon Taco, Glencove Gas Dock, Bear Bottom, Frankie and Louie’s, and Paradise.
“The day started off with a lot of wind and rain but the skies opened just in time for the run,” Anderson said. “Some troops and boats didn’t make it with the weather but we got through the whole day and the awards before another storm rolled through.
“Seeing the troops come back with smiles on their faces was the best part of the day,” he added. “We do this event for them. While I’m proud to be a part of the day and Big Thunder is happy to sponsor such a great event, it’s really all about the troops and H.E.R.O.E.S. Care. Next year we want to make it an even bigger event!”
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Photo Essay: Support Our Troops Poker Run Marches On