Softball’S Benefit Bbq Is Friday

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The Lady Longhorn softball team benefit deep-pit barbecue that was originally scheduled for April 8 but postponed due to rain, wind and snow flurries, has been rescheduled for April 22.

The date is also the team’s final regular game, which will be against the visiting Fountain Hills Falcons.

The barbecue will be served from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the PHS softball diamond. The event annually attracts throngs of fans eager to taste bits of Albert Hunt’s deep-pit beef and cowboy beans that have long pleased the palates of those who savor outdoor cooking.

The meal consists of down-home delicious beef, beans, salad and a drink for $6. Tickets are available at the door or from Kadi Tenney at (928) 468-1838.

All proceeds, which often exceed $3,000, benefit the PHS softball program.

Tonto Basin Poker Ride

The Third Annual Lorraine Cline Memorial Poker Ride at the O bar C Ranch in Tonto Basin will travel through some of Gila County’s most scenic wildlands.

The poker ride begins about 10 a.m., Saturday, April 30 at the Tonto Basin-area ranch located at 1390 Ewing Trail.

Registration is at 9 a.m.

The jaunt is about 40 miles and is expected to take most of the day because there will be several stops along the way to receive playing cards that will make up each entrant’s poker hand. A stop will also be made where riders can enjoy a picnic lunch they pack and bring along.

A pair of the most interesting stops will be at the historic DuPont Cabin and the Copper Mountain mining site.

Tonto Basin businessman John Dryer, who was a good friend to Lorraine Cline and helps out each year with the ride, says the DuPont Cabin, “is a spot you could never find unless you knew exactly where it was.”

He also describes the remote Copper Mountain “as an old mining claim that’s a lot of fun to look around.”

Last year about 80 entrants competed in the poker ride, but both organizer Laci Sopeland and Dryer are expecting more than 100 to enter the upcoming benefit.

The fee is $20 per poker hand and players may purchase multiple hands. Prize money will be paid to the top three hands.

Players must be 18 or older to purchase poker hands.

For those unfamiliar with poker rides: they are an organized event where participants, usually using motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, boats or horses, must visit five to seven checkpoints, drawing a playing card at each one. The object is to have the best poker hand at the end of the run. Winning is purely a matter of chance.

For more information or for directions to the ranch, call (928) 978-1254 or (918) 978-0540.

Sopeland, the granddaughter of Cline who died three years ago of lung cancer, organized the benefit poker rides to earn money, which will be donated to local persons currently waging war against the dreaded disease.

Sopeland says a portion of the money will go to a Tonto Basin couple whose child is currently in Phoenix Children’s Hospital receiving treatment for a rare form of cancer.

The couple, both teachers, have two other children that must remain home to attend school.

Care for the two children at home is costing the family in excess of $1,000 per month and there’s also soaring hospital costs.

Sopeland also plans on contributing some of the poker ride profits to a fund that has been established in Payson to help Greg Day in his fight against cancer.

Sopeland would also like to fund a type of free wellness clinic where Gila County residents could receive health care and check ups.

She says the clinic is an especially important goal because her grandmother’s cancer was not diagnosed until very late in the disease’s progression and had she known about it earlier, chances for survival would have been better.

“She died only three months after it was diagnosed,” said Sopeland.

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