Although the Justice McNeeley Foundation’s main fund-raiser is the annual quad and motorcycle poker run, the group now hosts a second fund-raiser to help meet the increased demands of helping children in need.
It is “Casino Day” which will be held 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, April 21 at Sidewinders Saloon in Pine.
The inaugural event was held last spring and because it was a success, organizers decided to host a second benefit.
The entry donation is $15 per person with additional buy-ins, or donations, available for purchase.
Games will include blackjack, roulette, craps and Texas Hold ’em.
The benefits, both Casino Day and the poker run, are dear to the heart of Katie Lynn Parks, the mother of the boy — Justice McNeeley — for whom the foundation is named.
The foundation was begun in 2004 to earn the $8,500 needed to buy Justice, then an engaging, witty 5-year-old who suffered from spinal muscular atrophy, a motorized wheelchair called a Go-Bot.
Almost everyone in the two mountain hamlets knows the feel-good story that resulted — the event was an overwhelming success, Justice got his Go-Bot and organizers were so happy with the results they decided to continue the effort, forming the foundation and adopting a motto of “Help Us Help a Child”.
Since the inception of the benefit, the fund has doled out thousands of dollars to help pay the medical expenses of needy Rim Country children.
“Dental, hearing, glasses, orthotics — anything they need, we try to provide,” said JMF fund chairman Chuck Collins.
In the past few years, the foundation donated more than $3,600 to purchase a trainer to help a disabled boy learn to walk; $5,500 to pay a surgery bill; $5,400 for dental braces; $2,400 to pay a child’s doctor bill; and more than $2,400 for specialized hearing aids.
This year, needs are even greater than in the past.
“With the economy the way it is, we are overwhelmed with applications for children needing medical support and we never want to be in the position to have to turn a child down because of funds,” said Parks.
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 and Strawberry children only.
In truth, the foundation helps more children in Payson than in Pine and Strawberry.
Parks’ hope is that throngs of residents, especially those in Payson, join the effort to help children in need by showing up at Casino Day and lending their support to one of the most worthwhile causes in the Rim Country.