When Big Thunder Marine opened registration for the 15th annual Support Our Troops Poker Run in late February, Jeremy Anderson, the general manager of the Fountain Powerboats, Donzi Marine and—most recently—Cigarette Racing Team dealership at the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri said he’d like the event to reach the 100-boat mark. And if this Friday’s event continues to grow, Anderson, Ed Champion and the other members of the Big Thunder team will appreciate every one of them as a record-setting 50-plus veterans have been signed up so far.
With just four days to go, more veterans—and boat/participant registrations—are sure to follow.
The title sponsor and producer of the Support Our Troops Poker Run, Big Thunder Marine is preparing for a big turnout this year. Photo by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Helmkamp Photos.
“I’m not sure where the boat count is right now, but we already have more than 50 veterans signed up for the day,” said Anderson.
The the military service-people who participate in the Support Our Troops Poker Run sign up for the event through H.E.R.O.E.S. Care. According to its website, the Fenton, Mo.-based program “provides support for members of all branches of the military and their families through pre-deployment, deployment, family reintegration and post-deployment.”
In addition to providing a day of boating and more for veterans, Support Our Troops raises funds for H.E.R.O.E.S. Care. Last year, the event raised more than $20,000 for the organization thanks its participants and sponsors including Poly Lift Boat Lifts, which has supported the event since its inception, 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.
Would-be participants can click here to sign up. The registration fee is $150 and 100-percent of the proceeds go to the H.E.R.O.E.S. Care program. Hosting a veteran for the day is optional—but it’s an option most participants are honored to enjoy.
“You pay to enter, but Big Thunder pays for all of the other costs and Dog Days pays for dinner so the money goes directly to H.E.R.O.E.S. Care,” said Anderson. “Big Thunder pays for the breakfast, event shirts, lanyards and more.”
Headquartered at the Lake of the Ozarks, Poly Lift Boat Lifts is among the event’s longtime returning sponsors. Photo by Shawn Kober copyright Big Planet Media.
The Big Thunder Marine-produced event has become a favorite of locals at the lake. Among them is Nikki Sorenson—a real estate agent at Swift and Co. Realty and the subject of a new Speed On The Water “In The Know” video going live today. Sorenson’s husband, Chuck, has a work obligation this year so the couple won’t be able to run their 38-foot Scarab sportboat in the event. But that probably won’t stop Mrs. Sorenson.
“We try to do that run every year—it would be un-American not to,” she said. “Plus, my girlfriend’s son, Cody Griffy, served in the U.S. Air Force. So time allowing I will try to get on someone else’s boat.”
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