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HomeEvent CoverageWish Fulfillment Reigns At 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run

Wish Fulfillment Reigns At 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run

By all accounts, last Saturday’s third annual 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run in Clayton, N.Y., experienced an uncommonly miserable mix of heat and humidity. At the first-time lunch stop in Alexandria Bay, the 767 participants from 119 boats went through more than 2,000 bottles of water handed out by members of the local Rotary Club. Beating the heat was a legitimate concern throughout the day.

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A first-time particpant and sponsor of the 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run, John Woodruff came all the way from Georgia to run Windship, his 48-foot MTI catamaran in the event (click image to enlarge). Photo courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images.

“We don’t get heat and humidity like that here,” said Nolan Ferris, one of the dedicated members of the 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run organizing commitee that includes Renee and Ken Lalonde, Bobby Cantwell, Alexandra Buduson and Court Rutherford. “It was the most uncomfortable weather I’ve felt here in the last 15 years, and everyone I know who boats here agreed with me.”

And yet the weather did nothing to crush the spirit of the go-fast boating event.

The 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run is without question a wonderful, well-organized happening on one of the most beautiful waterways in the world. But look just below the surface and you discover a happening that is all about making dreams come true for children who have lived through—and are still living through—the nightmare of chronic and sometimes terminal illnesses.

“It’s a truly special event,” said Bob Christie, a New Jersey-based poker-run veteran who, like well-known poker runner John Woodruff of Georgia, participated in the 1,000 Islands Charity happening for the first time this year. “The whole community and town join together to make it special. It was nice to see so many people from all over North America and Europe come together to help those far less fortunate than us. I will be back next year and will encourage many of my friends to attend and support this worthy cause.”

Added fellow first-time 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run participant Dave Scotto of Ontario, Canada, “This could be my favorite poker run of all time. I’ll definitely be back.”

Check out the slideshow above to enjoy more images from the third annual 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run.

For third year in a row, the 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run raised money for Make-A-Wish of Central New York and the River Community Wellness Program at River Hospital. But this time around, the event—through the generosity of its sponsors and dedication of its organizers—granted wishes for two children, a boy in the Make-A-Wish of Central New York program and a girl from Make-A-Wish of Ontario, Canada.

A talented musician, the boy is getting a recording studio in his home. Infatuated with Disney princesses, the girl and her family will be transported to Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., where she will be transformed into a Disney princess.

But wish-fulfillment—all celebrated during Saturday’s night dinner, celebration and live auction—didn’t stop there. Through the generosity of the participants, the event raised $20,000 for a project led by a Make-A-Wish program boy named Noah Satterlee.

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As it had for the past two years, Aqua-Mania stepped us as the event’s title sponsor (click image to enlarge).

Having logged more than his share of time hospitals, Satterlee decided to make his own “Noah’s Care Bags” for other children dealing with hospital time. The bags include toiletries, candies and inspirational notes from Satterlee, who delivers 10 to 40 of his bags a week to a local hospital in Syracuse.

In advance of Saturday evening’s festivities, the organizers had 250 bags custom-made and labeled for Satterlee. The $20,000 raised for his project during the auction will ensure those bags and more are properly filled for a very long time.

Said official event photographer Tim Sharkey, “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house during the Make-A-Wish presentations and auction last night.”

Sharing the stage with Tyler English, last year’s 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run Make-A-Wish beneficiary, Ferris and his fellow organizers auctioned off an array of items for much more than their actual worth. Wrapped in event title sponsor Aqua-Mania graphics by Canadian Alex De Angelis, a radio-control boat fetched $10,000. And then Tom Hall, the winning bidder, donated the model boat back to the organizers so it could be auctioned off during next year’s event.

The event finished with a fireworks display over the St. Lawrence River and live music in the patio behind the 1,000 Islands Harbor Hotel, the host venue. To keep the celebratory vibe going, sponsor Doug Sample of Claymore Development footed the open-bar tab, according to Ferris, who ended up without a voice.

“It was a long and very beautiful night,” Ferris said. “But I can barely talk now.”

Devin Wozencraft of Southern California-based Wozencraft Insurance Agency, which specializes in high-performance powerboat coverage, has participated in all three 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run events. Like Christie, returning sponsor Randy Scism of MTI and new sponsors John Cosker of Mystic Powerboats, Dan Kleitz of Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats and Mike Jurusz of Chef Mike’s ABG restaurant in New Jersey, had nothing but praise for the organization of the event and the natural scenery, which this year included an elevated view of famed Boldt Castle from the lunch stop.

Wish fulfillment ruled Saturday night’s dinner celebration and auction.

“This was definitely the best of all three events,” Wozencraft said. “It was obvious that a lot of time and effort and planning went into this event months in advance.”

As for organizers Ferris, Buduson, Cantwell, Rutherford and the Lalondes, their work for the 2020 event has already begun. It actually started with a Sunday morning debrief/meeting with the Coast Guard and local law-enforcement agencies. But at least for now, they can exhale a bit.

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New Jersey-based restaurant owner Mike Jurusz joined the fleet as a participant and a sponsor this year (click image to enlarge).

“For the next few days, I’m going to work on getting my voice back,” Ferris said, then laughed “That’s my mission.”

Related stories
1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run Participants Dedicate Day To Make-A-Wish Kids
Photo Essay: 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run Street Party Small But Mighty
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