Tallmadge -- For the ninth consecutive year, the Lance Cpl. Daniel "Nate" Deyarmin Jr. Memorial Benefit Poker Run has raised thousands of dollars for disabled and/or disadvantaged American veterans and their families.
As of June 11, the unofficial amount of money raised this year was $33,374, according to benefit organizer Edie Deyarmin, of Tallmadge. She expects the final amount raised to be around $34,000.
"[It was] fantastic. We had the best weather," Edie Deyarmin said about the June 9 event at the Tallmadge Middle School track. "Attendance was wonderful. We had an official count of 645 motorcycles, an additional 288 passengers on the motorcycles and 109 cars in the car show. Spectators were up. The food was fabulous. Everything went perfectly."
Last year, the Poker Run raised about $30,000. Edie Deyarmin said exceeding that amount this year is "exceptional."
"The goal is always to try to make enough money to help as many veterans as possible. I think God just wants us to make the money we're going to need for this year," she said.
The benefit is named after 2002 Tallmadge High School graduate Lance Cpl. Daniel "Nate" Deyarmin Jr., who died in Iraq in 2005. He enjoyed driving and working on cars, trucks and motorcycles so his parents, Edie and Dan Deyarmin, and friends honor his memory every year through the benefit that brings together a lot of horsepower.
During the Poker Run, motorcyclists and their passengers drove to five stops along a 109-mile course throughout the greater Akron/Canton area, including the MAPS [Military Aviation Preservation Society] Air Museum in North Canton, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall at the Ohio Veterans' Memorial Park in Clinton and the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman. At each stop they collected a playing card for their poker hand.
At the final stop, which was back at the middle school's track, participants collected their last cards and presented their poker hands. The winners of the game won trophies.
At the event's home base at the track, a band, food, car and truck show, door prizes and raffles kept the crowd entertained. An Honor Wall featuring photos of about 175 fallen veterans and active military service members was on display.
Throughout the first eight years of the benefit, the Deyarmin Foundation has raised about $180,000 for disabled and disadvantaged American veterans and their families, assisting them with housing expenses, rent, furniture, food and more.
"I'm tickled pink and am very grateful to the community for this, the people who help us and support us," Edie Deyarmin said. "It means the world to a lot of people; it's not just us. It helps us with our grieving, but it helps that what we're going to be able to do with the money raised again is phenomenal."