VALDOSTA — Riders from all over south Georgia and north Florida gathered in front of Charley O’Corley’s Irish Pub and Grill Saturday morning in an effort to raise money for cystic fibrosis research during the 2nd Annual Ride to Live Poker Run.

The event, sponsored by Ambling Companies, Outback Riders and Five Points Toyota registered more than 200 bikes and brought in over $10,000, 100 percent of which will be donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, according to Event Coordinator Tamela Myers.

The last bikes set out at 11 a.m. on their run collecting cards to see who could create the best poker hand. The ride took participants from Valdosta to Lee, Fla. to Madison, Fla. then on to Cherry Lake, where they collected cards along the way, and finally back to Valdosta where the final cards were drawn. The participant who created the best poker hand from cards collected won the event’s grand prize, a three-day, two-night cruise for two to the Bahamas. The first place winner received $300 cash, second place won $200 cash and third place took home $100 cash. Attendees also competed for raffle items and participated in a 50/50 raffle and a silent auction. Five Points Toyota agreed to match the 50/50 raffle up to $2,000. Charley O’Corley’s also offered food and drink specials throughout the day and donated a percentage of the day’s profits to the cause.

The last riders returned to Valdosta at 4 p.m. and enjoyed music from SR6 as they gathered to celebrate the day’s event and wait for the announcement of the final winners.

Myers said that this year’s event doubled in size over last year.

“Bikers love to ride and it makes it even better if they can ride for a cause,” Myers said. “There are no words to explain how you feel when you know what you are doing is really, really going to make a difference. Hopefully with events like this and people like this who are so willing to donate their time and money for this cause, in the coming years ‘CF’ will stand for ‘cure found.’ Then we can have everyone out for a celebration to say ‘well done’.”

More than 20 riders from Outback Riders participated and the group also helped organize and plan the event. Jimmy Land and Rat Braun said they originally joined the cause to support Ambling Companies, whose supported them in the past during their annual Christmas Toy Run.

“Ambling Companies has always supported us and it takes a partnership for success,” Land said. “This is a good benefit as far as CF is concerned and we enjoy giving back to the community. We decided this is something we could do to help the community and CF.”

Land and Braun said their connections with other riders locally and throughout south Georgia and north Florida contributed to the event’s large turn-out.

Katherine Courson, mother of Katie Courson, 6, who has been diagnosed with CF, said events like the Poker Run are great. She said its great for people to have a good time supporting a cause and the CF Foundation does an excellent job in how they use money raised.

Another citizen, whose young daughter has CF, also wanted people to begin to question whether or not CF is underrepresented with research funding and whether CF is getting its fair share or simply gets pushed to the side in the wake of so many other disease research programs.

According to Katja Morgenstern, director of development for the CF foundation, the citizens of Valdosta are very aware of the need to contribute to the cause. She stated that Valdosta, as a small, close-knit community is extremely generous. Every other place in the state of Georgia would like to take Valdosta’s example and clone it, according to Morgenstern.

CF is the number one genetic childhood disease in the country and approximately 30,000 patients are diagnosed each year. One in twenty people are carriers of the gene that causes CF in children and there are approximately 750 CF patients in Georgia, according to Morgenstern. The medical community is very optimistic of finding a cure within the next 5-10 years, but the quality of living for people with CF is continuously getting better through breathing treatments, earlier detection and progressive medications, Morgenstern added. In 2007 new-borns will be tested for CF in their overall health screening after birth, which is a huge step in improving the awareness of CF and the importance of early diagnosis, according to Morgenstern.

There are two major fundraisers in Valdosta for CF each year. In addition to the Poker Run, the Great Strides Walk is held each year and is the second largest fundraising effort in the state. Last year the Great Strides Walk brought in $28 million with Valdosta contributing $195,000. This year the walk will take place at Wild Adventures Theme Park Nov. 11.

For information on contributing to the CF Foundation contact Tamela Myers at 229-561-0317 or visit

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