Laci Sopeland and a bevy of Lorraine Cline Memorial Fund volunteers have for the past five years waged an all-out war against cancer.
Among the weapons they’ve used to earn money to fund the fight against the disease is the Lorraine Cline Memorial Poker Ride, which has grown in stature and popularity each year since its founding in 2006.
The 2013 poker ride, which has morphed into one of most popular benefits and gala events in Gila County, began at 9 a.m., Saturday, April 27 at the O bar C ranch in Tonto Basin and continued most of the day traversing 60-plus miles of old Jeep trail, paths and dirt roads.
For the ride, 480 poker hands were sold at $20 per hand and 290 quads, side-by-sides and ATVs participated, said fund volunteer John Dryer, who called the benefit an overwhelming success.
Days after the benefit, Sopeland announced it had earned $41,000, which is more than twice what was generated last year.
“(The poker ride and benefit) has really taken off,” said Sopeland.
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 2013 Polaris Ranger Crew 800 EPS Camo valued at $16,100.
When the raffle hoopla finally settled, Ron and Gail Starke of Tonto Basin 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 six 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 Four Seasons Motor Sports.
It was Four Seasons that helped provide the Polaris as a raffle prize.