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Support Our Troops Poker Run Soldiers On Despite Weather Challenges

You can let the weather shut down your long-planned go-fast boating event, or you can say, “The heck with it” and move on with your plans. Participants in yesterday’s Support The Troops Poker Run organized by Lake Ozarks Marine in Osage Beach, Mo. and MidwestBoatParty.com—a thriving online community backed by the dealership—took the latter path and had one of the most successful events in the run’s nine-year history. More than 90 powerboats showed to host 34 active veterans from the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy for the nine-stop run on the Central Missouri waterway

“Every branch of the service was represented, except for the Coast Guard,” said Ed Champion of Lake Ozarks Marine. “It started out as challenging, but it turned out to be one of the best events we’ve ever had of photos and video.”

Just a week before the run, the event was approximately $30,000 short of its operating budget. Wake Effects, a wakeboard boat and new MTI dealer on the lake stepped up, as did one Lake Ozark Marine’s private customers, to make up the shortfall.

For images from last week’s Support The Troops Poker Run, check out the slideshow above. Photos courtesy Ed/Champion/Lake Ozarks Marine.

The run started in the morning from Camden On The Lake Resort but weather forced the participants the regroup at Dog Days, a popular waterside spot. To provide additional shelter from the rain, Champion and company brought in a Formula 400SS cruiser. With a still-sketchy but more-promising afternoon forecast, the group that decided to press on with the run before returning to Dog Days for the evening’s banquet and awards program.

The event, which included several sponsors including Poly Lift Boat Lifts, BBlades, LO Profile magazine, Lake of the Ozarks Harley Davidson and Brett’s Boating Detailing and more, raised $16,000 for the H.E.R.O.E.S. Care program and the Global Orphan Project. (For a complete list of sponsors, click here.) In particular, Champion praised employee Jeff Huebner and inter Amber Grisham for their hard work and organizational effort behind the scenes.

Said Champion, “The poker run paid $3,500 for first, $1,500 for second and $500 for third. I think the first-place winner donated $1,000 back to the charity and the third-place person donated it all back. It was a great event.”

Related Story: Forecast 2015: Ed Champion—Lake Ozarks Marine