The point of the Support Our Troops Poker Run is, of course, fundraising for the H.E.R.O.E.S Care program while providing a fun day on the water for veterans. And with more than $28,000 raised for the nonprofit veterans’ services program—a healthy increase from last year’s $20,000 total—and boat rides for some 40-plus military service people, yesterday’s 15th annual run on the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri made that point beautifully.
The 15th annual Support Our Troops Poker Run put smiles on hundreds of faces yesterday while raising money for an important cause. Photos by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Helmkamp Photos.
But the Big Thunder Marine-produced event on the popular waterway has taken on even greater significance in the local go-fast boating community as one of the area’s true don’t-miss happenings.
“The purpose of the event and everything it brings in for the troops just shows another prime example of what an amazing community the Lake of the Ozarks is,” said Sara Langheim, who drove Mrs. Jackhammer, a 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran with lake local Nikki Sorenson throttling for part of the afternoon. “It was an absolute blast and I’m glad we were able to make it to the lake in time to run it.”
Added Sorenson, “Sara made my entire summer by letting me throttle while she steered to two stops.”
Equally delighted was Langheim’s husband, Reese, the owner and driver of the Super Stock-class Jackhammer offshore racing team.
With a crew of (from left) Nikki Sorenson, Sara Langheim and Chrissy George, Reese Langheim enjoyed a lovely, stress-free day on the water.
“They did a great job and I got to sit back relax and enjoy the show—all I had to do is make sure there was gas in it,” Reese Langheim said, then chuckled. “”I just had to guide them on when to trim every once in a while. Our friend Chrissy George sat in the back with me and enjoyed the ride.
“Overall, we were very blessed to come and do this for the troops” he continued. “I am a big supporter of veterans—my dad is one as well.”
Enjoy more images from yesterday’s Lake of the Ozarks happening in the slideshow above.
This year’s sponsors included Poly Lift Boat Lifts, 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, Saratoga Hot Springs Resort, the Center for Spine and Orthopedics and Paradise. Lake of the Ozarks regulars Scott and Jenna Kottman provided speedonthewater.com contributing photographer Jeff Helmkamp with his photo platform—an MTI 390X catamaran—for the day.
“There were five flights of 10 boats each, with a couple of extra boats added in various groups,” said Helmkamp of the multi-stop run. “We were the group No. 3 flag boat and there was a nice assortment of Bajas, Fountain center consoles and Donzis in the fleet.”
A well-known figure at the Lake of the Ozarks, Michael Janssen brought two boats to the event.
Mark Maasen of locally based Poly-Lift has been involved with the event since its inception. He and his wife, Tiffany, pour their passion into it every year—and not just as returning sponsors. They are participants.
“It was a great event and we had a fantastic time,” said Maasen, who was joined by his wife and her son, Ben, in their 38-foot Renegade center console powered by triple Mercury Racing 400R outboard engines. “We had four active military personnel with us including Tiffany’s son who is in the Air Force.”
Honoring veterans and raising money to assist them is at the heart of the annual Support Our Troops event.
For renowned spinal surgeon, retired offshore racer and Lake of the Ozarks regular Michael Janssen, the event was equally personal and compelling. Not only was Janssen a sponsor via the Sarasota Lodge and Resort and the Spine and Orthopedics center, he brought two color-matched boats—his Outerlimits V-bottom sportboat and a Fountain center console—to the run.
“My father passed away a couple of months ago,” he said. “He was in the Marines so I particularly wanted to support and participate in this great event.”
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