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Twinsburg -- Of the many things that Josh Miktarian loved to do, poker runs on his softtail Harley in support of fallen officers were close to his heart, says a friend and former colleague of the late Twinsburg officer.
"We used to ride together," said Chuck Clapper, who is organizing the fifth annual Officer Joshua Miktarian Poker Run. "Josh loved to ride motorcycles. Now we're carrying on the tradition in his name."
The fifth-annual motorcycle (and car) run will rumble out of Brewster's Caf, Bistro and Pub on Creekside Drive by mid-morning Aug. 24, and is expected to draw hundreds of bikers for the 85-mile trip through four counties.
The ride in memory of Miktarian, a 1993 Tallmadge High School graduate and 11-year Twinsburg officer who was killed July 13, 2008, in the line of duty, supports the twin Officer Joshua Miktarian Memorial Scholarships.
Last year, the ride raised about $5,000 toward the two scholarships, given each year to graduating Tallmadge and Twinsburg high school seniors entering a career in law enforcement or a related field, Clapper said.
"We usually hit that goal," he said. "I hope we can get to a point where the scholarships can be set [in perpetuity] and that they do not depend on annual fundraising. But this is what we do to keep [Miktarian's] legacy going."
The ride will take the riders through Summit, Portage, Cuyahoga and Geauga counties, with stops at the officer's black granite memorial in Twinsburg at Government Center; Delanie's Neighborhood Grille in Tallmadge; Dante's County Line Saloon in Brecksville; the Brew House in Kent; and the Auburn Inn in Auburn Township.
Registration begins at Brewster's at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 24, at $20 per person, and riders can head out once they are registered. Clapper said the cost includes doughnuts and coffee in the morning and a pig roast when the riders return to Brewster's, probably sometime between 3 and 3:30 p.m.
Cash prizes will be awarded for the best -- and worst -- poker hands upon return.
Registration can also be done at www.josh45.com.
Holly Miktarian, Josh's widow and a former Oakwood Village officer, will ride her husband's prized softail in the run.
"It's so important to keep this going, so that Josh is not forgotten," she said Aug. 19. "My goal is to one day pass this torch to [the couple's daughter] Thea, so that she might continue to be proud of Daddy's name."
The annual poker run and the Joshua Miktarian Memorial Golf Tournament, conducted by the Twinsburg Police Association, are the two main fundraisers for the scholarships. This year, a garage sale also raised $1,600 for the scholarship foundation, and a fundraising evening at Rock the Park chipped in $1,900.