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Giving at Wide-Open Throttle

About a month ago, I stood in front of a stage at the Desert Storm Poker Run in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and watched Joy Schou of the Platinum Power Club and Bob Teague of Teague Custom Marine raise money for the Phoenix Chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, as well as local area charities. Schou and Teague are, to put it mildly, big personalities. When they put the bite on you, the bite is hard. With a lot of help from others, most notably Jim Nichols of Lake Racer LLC—the organizer and promoter for Desert Storm—they raised more than $17,000.


In that moment, I felt proud and privileged to cover the world of high-performance boating. It’s a world that gets slammed from every conceivable direction for being loud and wasteful, ostentatious and obnoxious. And to those who say that, probably sailors (just teasing but I couldn’t resist), I answer:


Shore Dreams For Kids—the annual New Jersey Performance Power Club-led event that last year gave more than 500 powerboats rides to mentally and physically disabled children and adults.


The Platinum Powerboat Club—that in its five-event poker run series this season is shooting to raise $100,000 for local charities, as well as give boat rides to hundreds of terminally ill children.


The Big Cat Poker Run—the Discovery Bay, Calf., poker run that raises money for the Discovery Bay Lion’s Club, which in turn provides services for visually impaired children.


The Jacksonville River Rally Poker Run—that for the past nine years has raised thousands of dollars for the Northern Florida Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.


And those are just a handful of events that come immediately to mind. There are others, many, many others.


Behind each event there are good and selfless people, folks like Marc Blondin and Bob Llewellyn who ran the famed Smoke On the Water Poker Run, which annually raised thousands of dollars for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, on Lake Michigan before it tragically had to end several years ago. Behind all of these events are thousands of volunteers who work their back ends off for nothing more than a smile and knowing that, at least on this day, they did something that made a difference.


And last, though far from least, there are the participants who donate. Sure, they’re out to have a good time in the process. Why not? Whoever said that charity and good times have to be mutually exclusive? I would argue that the more an organizer provides of the former, the more his charity will receive of the latter.


The 2010 performance-boating is just beginning, and it’s about time.  It is sure to be a season of fast times and large living. But it will also be a season of giving. As usual.