Worthwhile Benefits Highlight Weekend

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A pair of worthwhile benefits that deserve our unwavering support will highlight this weekend’s activities.

Tomorrow, Saturday, April 28, the Lorraine Cline Memorial Fund Poker Ride will begin at the O-bar-C ranch in Tonto Village.

The following day, Sunday, the Justice McNeeley Foundation-hosted “Casino Day” will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Sidewinders Saloon in Pine.

The entry fee is $15 per person with additional buy-ins or donations available. Games include blackjack, roulette, craps and Texas Hold ’em.

The benefit is dear to the heart of Katie Lynn Parks, the mother of the boy — Justice McNeeley — for whom the foundation is named.

While Parks has been active in the benefit for years, she frets Payson townspeople don’t get involved or participate because they mistakenly believe the funds earned benefit Pine children only.

In truth, the foundation helps more children in Payson than in Pine and Strawberry.

Also, Parks says, “With the economy still down, we are helping more kids than ever.”

The foundation helps children in need with medical bills and other financial assistance.

Registration for the Lorraine Cline poker ride begins at 9 a.m. tomorrow and the ride starts one hour later.

Poker cards are available at $20 per hand and prizes will be paid for first, second and third best hands.

While the benefit’s only been in existence for four years, it’s attracting droves of followers from the Rim Country, southern Gila County and the Valley.

Event organizer Laci Sopeland is expecting even more to enter this year.

For the 2012 ride, the route has undergone some changes from past runs and will be about 50 miles which 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.

One of the most fascinating stops is the now abandoned Copper Mountain mining site.

The route also passes through the Buzzard Roost Ranch just off FR 416.

John Dryer, who helps run the event with Sopeland, said early this week that the Forest Service has improved some of the trails and roads which should render the ride both safe and fun.

It’s a celebratory and festive outing designed to tickle the fancy of most all ATV owners, but the real purpose behind it is to benefit the fight against cancer.

Four Seasons Motorsports of Rye is among those who has pitched in to help make the poker ride a benefit to remember. Four Seasons has helped Sopeland and her assistants secure a state of the art side-by-side Polaris UTV to be used as a charity raffle prize at the event.

A maximum of 200 raffle tickets were sold for $100 each and the drawing will begin at 6 p.m., today, Friday, April 27, during a sure-to-be-celebratory pre-race dinner and dance at the Butcher Hook in Tonto Basin.

Sopeland, Dryer and a volunteer committee have been expertly planning the raffle, dinner and ride for months which means it’s sure to be an adventure that will be well remembered.

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