It’s official—the new weekend for the Pirates Of Lanier Charity Poker Run in Georgia is a winner. Not only were there close to 300 boats on hand for the 14th annual event on Lake Lanier, the charitable aspect of the event raised a record-setting $450,000 this year.
The Pirates of Lanier Charity Poker Run returned to form in a big way this year, moving the dates from July to September and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities. Photos courtesy Dov Goldstein/DockBars.
Based on participation numbers alone, the event, which moved from its traditional mid-July dates to the middle of September, appeared to fit better on performance boaters’ calendars. Being sandwiched between two popular events, the Lake Cumberland Poker Run in Kentucky and the Florida Powerboat Club’s Emerald Coast Powerboat Poker Run in the Florida Panhandle, wasn’t a bad spot to be in either.
And while the weather didn’t cooperate completely as storms dampened some of the fun on Friday and Saturday, the consensus is that the odds for friendlier boating weather are better in September than July, a month that is typically warmer and muggier.
“The weather wasn’t the best, but we had a great time,” said Mitch Kramer of Maryland Offshore Performance Marine Center in Ijamsville, Md., who did the run in Teasers, the canopied 36-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran that defended its Fastest On The River title in Maryland at Tiki Lee’s Shootout On The River in July with a 137-mph top speed on the three-quarter-mile course. “Lake Lanier is a really cool place—the people are extremely nice and the lake is extremely deep at 100-plus feet. Pretty much everything around the lake was nicely marked and we even learned a little about the lake’s history and how it was a town before it was created for flood control in the early 1950s.”
Kramer and the owner of Maryland Offshore, Andy Imhof, had never been to the event, but they were glad they added it to the 2023 Teasers Tour, their third annual poker run tour sponsored by the Key West, Fla., gentleman’s club. One of Maryland Offshore’s dedicated customers, Joe Erickson, attended the run with Imhof, Kramer and company in Orange Crush, his 40-foot Skater.
“We wanted to test this place out first before bringing our fleet of customers, and we’re glad we did,” said Kramer, adding that it was good to see some friends from Lake of the Ozarks, Jim and Mitch Watson, who brought their Skater to the event. “We’re definitely going to do this run again and we’ll be better organized going into it. There were a lot of locals who knew about Teasers and were excited to see us, so that was cool.
“The Lanier Islands/Margaritaville property is top notch,” he continued. “We stayed in one of their cabins and every day we showed up it was like we were never there. Overall, the staff did an amazing job and the accommodations were over the top. There were a bunch of different restaurants and practically everything you need on the island. You really didn’t have to go anywhere else.”
Check out the slideshow above for more images from the Pirates of Lanier Charity Poker Run.
Sheridan Bazemore, who in January became president of Lanier Partners of North Georgia, the nonprofit fundraising group behind the Pirates of Lanier Charity Poker Run, said that it was astonishing to see all the boats and participants from different parts of the country, including California, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New York and more.
She also stated that she’s confident the event brought in $450,000 for the nonprofit organization thanks to 290 registered boat owners and their friends and family, as well as a long list of generous sponsors. The official amount raised will be confirmed once all of the event’s finances are accounted for and calculated.
“Unbelievable—we had a record-breaking year and a lot of that had to do with our sponsors and the man of the hour, John Woodruff,” Bazemore said. “We honored John on Friday night for his contributions to multiple charities and the ceremony was an emotional and gratuitous time. His family and friends all were on stage and everyone had a blast. The addition of the bikini contest and live auction this year helped make the event a complete success.
“I have to thank Dan Jape of Jape Services and Jody Hamilton of Hamilton Marine Finance for coming on board as presenting sponsors this year,” she continued. “We were happy to get Dan Jape back on board this year and we expect to do bigger things next year. Both Dan and Jody were a great help to me. So was Alvin Heathman of Super Cat Fest. He helped me with so much along the way—we talked once a week and he gave me amazing advice.”
Bazemore also thanked several other top-tier sponsors, including longtime supporter Brad Hancock with Hancock Claims Consultants, and Mark and Jennifer Campbell of Golden Anchor Storage. She also gave a shout-out to her friend and local photographer, Lionel Hamilton, for doing all of the running around with her last week.
“I didn’t feel well last week so I wasn’t able to run my boat in the poker run, but I did make it over Saturday for the awards ceremony and I was thrilled to see such an amazing turnout,” said Jape, who has been providing customers in and around the Atlanta area with heating and cooling services for five decades. “We are so excited to have Sheridan leading the way. She was the driving force this year and she knocked it out of the park.”
Jape added that he loved seeing a lot of newcomers—and out-of-towners—at the poker run.
“We had a good time at Pirates of Lanier—we made the best of it despite the rain,” said Michigan performance boater Justin Snook, who added that Northern Georgia is the furthest he and his wife, Melissa (pictured above), have hauled their 42-foot Fountain Powerboats V-bottom for a poker run. “The run has been on our list for the last few years. We’re glad we made the trip to do it. Thankfully we had our friends, JJ Malkasian and his fiancé, Alexis, who live in Dawsonville, Ga., and play on Lanier, to make us feel at home.
“There was definitely some incredible hardware at the event,” he continued. “And we met a lot of great people. It was a good weekend overall.
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