Benefit Poker Ride Is This Saturday

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The hootin’ and hollerin’ that begins tonight in Tonto Basin will pick up again tomorrow and carry on most of the day.

The down home, country hoopla will be a big part of the Fifth Annual Lorraine Cline Memorial Fund Poker Ride and benefit that kicks at 6 p.m. this evening, Friday, April 26, with a rootin’, tootin’, benefit dinner and dance beginning at 6 p.m. at The Butcher Hook in Tonto Basin.

The gathering is sure to include a scrumptious meal, entertainment and plenty of small-town camaraderie.

Also during the evening, Cline Memorial Fund organizer Laci Sopeland and other volunteers will conduct a reverse raffle to select the winner of a 2013 Polaris Ranger Crew 800 EPS Camo valued at about $16,100.

During the past few months, fund volunteers sold 250 tickets for $100 each for a chance to win the side-by-side.

The poker run, which is the charity’s major fund-raiser, begins at 9 a.m., tomorrow, Saturday, April 27 at the O-bar-C Ranch in Tonto Basin and continues along old Jeep and mining trails through some of the county’s most scenic high desert vistas.

John Dryer, a longtime friend of the Cline family, says the route has changed slightly from last year due to a fire that swept through the area in September.

The route travels along FR 1411 past Juniper Mountain, the ZT Ranch, Buzzard Roost Camp and near Copper Mountain before finishing at the original starting line.

“The trip will be about 46 miles,” said Dryer.

He estimates the ride will take most of the day because riders will want to stop and sightsee, eat a lunch they pack for themselves and possibly visit with other entrants.

Dryer says the ride is a great way to make new friends.

At the start line, poker hands will be sold for $20 each and prize money will be doled out for first, second and third place.

Proceeds from the ride and raffle will ultimately benefit Gila County residents in their fight against cancer.

Sopeland says a portion of the money earned will also eventually help fund a type of free wellness clinic where Gila County residents can receive health care and check ups.

The clinic is a big-time goal for Sopeland because Lorraine Cline, her grandmother for whom the benefit is named, was not diagnosed with cancer until very late in the disease’s progression and had she known about it earlier, chances for survival would have been much better. “She died only three months after it was diagnosed,” said Sopeland.

All those of you who own a quad or side-by-side need to do to participate in the benefit is show up tomorrow morning at the O-bar-C ready to ride and primed for new adventures.

But don’t forget the $20 for the poker hand and be sure to bring along your lunch and beverages.

Also, don’t forget to stop long enough to chat with Dryer who will be one of those passing out poker cards.

He’s a genuine character and living proof that adolescence can last a lifetime.

Baseball benefit

The Payson High baseball team is in dire need of financial support and to earn money will host a “Hole-in-One Challenge” tomorrow, April 27, at Payson Golf Course.

Tickets are $2 per shot or $5 for three shots. Qualifying will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the finals begin at 3:30 p.m. The top prize is $50,000.

Coach Brian Young says the top five qualifiers from the early session will be invited to the 3:30 p.m. finals.

“With all the financial issues in our district, any money we can make on our own goes right back to the players in the form of uniforms, equipment and travel to tournaments,” Young said.

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