Laci Sopeland and the Lorraine Cline Memorial Fund are declaring war against cancer, the most dreaded disease of our time.
The affirmation to battle occurred April 27 just after the proceeds from the Fourth Annual Cline Poker Run were counted, prompting Sopeland to announce the money — about $17,000 — would be used to fund the inaugural Gila County Hope Fair.
At it, Sopeland said, county residents will be eligible to receive a free cancer screening once each year.
Out-of-county residents may have a screening for a reduced fee, said Sopeland.
The poker ride, which has morphed into one of most popular benefits and gala events in Gila County, began at 9 a.m. at the O bar C ranch in Tonto Basin and continued most of the day traversing 50-plus miles of old jeep trail, paths and dirt roads.
“It was a very scenic, wonderful trip,” said Sopeland.
For the ride, 290 poker hands were sold at $20 per hand.
At the finish line, after poker hands were turned in, Lon Cline claimed the first-place award of $400 for five 7s. John Dryer had four aces and took the second-place prize of $300. Melodi Deaton was third and won $200 for her four 7s.
The evening prior to the ride, during a festive dinner and dance at the Butcher Hook in Tonto Basin, a reverse raffle tickled the fancy of all who had shelled out $100 each to buy a ticket for a chance at winning a 2012 Polaris Ranger 800 XP side-by-side valued at almost $14,000.
When the raffle hoopla finally settled, Chris and Jeannie Cline were clutching the winning raffle ticket, prompting them to happily jump aboard their new, state-of-the-art Polaris.
The dinner, dance, raffle and poker ride is held each year in memory of Lorraine Cline, Sopeland’s grandmother, who died about five years ago from cancer.
Cline’s disease was not diagnosed until very late in its progression and had she known about it earlier, chances for survival would have been much better.
That prompted Sopeland and a bevy of family members and volunteers to begin the poker ride benefit with a goal of raising money to help fight the disease among residents of Gila County.
Following Saturday’s benefit, Sopeland was lavish in her praise of all who pitched in to make it a success, including Norma Cline and Four Seasons Motor Sports.
It was Four Seasons that helped provide the Polaris as a raffle prize.