Some 23,000 Instagram followers strong, Keys Island Runners produced its first Frankie Gutierrez Memorial Fun Run last weekend. And the event far exceeded the expectations of Daniel Garcia, III, a lifelong Key West, Fla., resident who started the group through the social media portal less than three years ago. The two-day event, which began with a casual trek on Friday to Marvin Key, attracted 79 registered boats and raised approximately $40,000 for the Frankie Gutierrez Jr., “Above and Beyond” Memorial Fund.
Last weekend’s Frankie Gutierrez Memorial Fun Run was the first poker-run format event produced by Key Island Runners. Photos courtesy/copyright Che and Co. Photo helicopter provided at no cost by Anthony Pacetti.
“My brother Frankie’s last words before passing were ‘above and beyond’—he kept saying it over and over,” Garcia said. “I will use this money for local high school scholarships and for locals who randomly get sick from cancer, like my brother did at the age of 31. He passed two years later.”
The run was based out of the Perry Hotel on Stock Island. On Saturday morning, the fleet left for a stop at Boca Grande Key, followed by another stop at Snipes Point before returning to the hotel host venue. Despite the typical headaches—boats leaving ahead of the photo helicopter and unregistered participants joining the fleet, which all organizers face at one time or another—the happening was seamless.
Said Garcia, “I felt that a lot of these boaters really needed this.”
“Not only was it the was the first poker run that I have put on, a lot of these people have never attended a poker run and didn’t really know how it worked,” Garcia explained. “After last weekend, I think people will be looking forward to the next one because they will feel more comfortable about how it works.”
In addition to poker-hand play, the event included a $100-per-ticket raffle for a 30-foot Hellkats Powerboats catamaran donated by builder Rey Marino.
Enjoy more images from the inaugural Frankie Gutierrez Memorial Fun Run weekend in the slideshow above.
“It was the first boat Rey built,” Garcia said. “He needed to make room for his new widebody model that will be coming out soon.
“Jose Aliva, a truck driver from Miami, won the boat,” he continued. “When I called him at 9 p.m., he was working. He thought I was joking with him.”
Miami-based Jose Aliva is now the proud owner of this 30-footer from Hellkats Powerboats. Photo from the 2020 Blast On The Bay Fun Run by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Humble and gracious by nature, Garcia credited the team of volunteers and sponsors who helped make the run happen including Lee Murray and his wife, Kehaulani Murray, from Murray Marine Key West and Robert Spottswood of the Stock Island Yacht Club. He even thanked his mom, Tammy Torres, and Samantha Sanchez, his “best friend since third grade.”
The Frankie Gutierrez Memorial Fun Run will be Keys Island Runners’ last official event of the year.
“I don’t want to continue putting together gatherings during this COVID-19 pandemic,” Garcia said. “I did this one because I wanted to raise money for my brother’s memorial fund and give back to the organization that helped my brother when he was sick fighting cancer.
“I also felt that a lot of these boaters really needed this,” he added. “They’ve been chomping at the bit since the last Keys Island Runners event was canceled in Marathon because of the COVID-19 lockdown in the Florida Keys.”
In addition to payouts, the top-three poker-hand winners received conch-inspired trophies from Key Island Runners.