The Ninth Annual Justice McNeeley Foundation Quad Ride could be bigger, better and more festive than any of the previous benefits.
And that’s saying something, since the poker runs remain among the most celebratory gatherings held in the two mountain hamlets of Pine and Strawberry.
The festivities include the quad poker run, horseshoe tournament, entertainment, raffles, auctions, giveaways, 50/50 drawings and food specials.
The Saturday, Sept. 21 event will begin and end at the Sidewinder Saloon on Beeline in Pine. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the ride starts one hour later. Doors open at 8 a.m.
In past years, more than 80 riders have turned out aboard a variety of ATVs, motorcycles, OHVs and side-by-sides, from customized high-dollar 800cc rigs loaded with accessories to older models suitable only for a single rider.
All the rigs, however, have one thing in common — they are outfitted with coolers and ice chests filled with plenty of refreshing beverages for the journey.
The course takes riders to Twin Buttes before returning to the starting line. Along the course, participants make five stops to pick up playing cards.
At the conclusion of the event, the entrants will win prizes for the two best poker hands. Holders of the worst hands will also win prizes.
Usually, it takes an impressive handful of cards to win — Cindy Didomenico won three years ago with a full house.
A single-elimination horseshoe tournament should also draw a crowd, with winners receiving prizes. The tournament will begin at 1 p.m. The entry fee for horseshoes and the quad run is $10 each.
Also this year, a Texas Hold ’em tournament begins at 1 p.m. inside Sidewinders. Buy-in is $15.
Breakfast burritos will sell for $4 and all proceeds will benefit the charity.
Roots in 2004
In the summer of 2004, friends of Justice McNeeley, then a 5-year-old Pine Strawberry School kindergartner, banded together to purchase him a specialized wheelchair called a Go-Bot.
After much brainstorming, the friends settled on a benefit poker run and other accompanying festivities to earn the money for the Go-Bot.
The boy suffers from spinal muscular atrophy — a form of muscular dystrophy — and the Go-Bot was designed to greatly improve Justice’s mobility over the standard wheelchair he then had.
Only an hour after the poker run wrapped up, the day culminated with one of the most emotional moments ever witnessed in the tiny, mountain town. Justice’s father, Trent, lifted his son onto the Go-Bot and the boy took his first-ever ride on a device that brought him newfound freedom.
“You people better watch out, here I come,” Justice said as he spun around the parking lot.
Since that inaugural benefit, Justice has attended most every event, greeting visitors while frolicking in the multitude of activities.
The overwhelming success of the first benefit prompted organizers, including Justice’s mother Katie Parks, to found the Justice McNeeley Foundation, which pays the medical expenses of boys and girls in need.
“Dental, hearing, glasses, orthotics — anything they need, we try to provide,” said Justice McNeeley Fund chairman Chuck Collins. “We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization and all our employees are non-paid volunteers.”
For details, call Katie Parks at (928) 238-0155 or Collins at (928) 476-3479.