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3rd Annual Relay For Life Poker Run: Riders Take to the Backroads to Fight Cancer

By Tommy Pittard

Abbeville, S.C., May 10 — This is the second poker run that I have covered at Saxon’s Bypass Grocery at the junction of Highway 72 and 28 in the last two or three weeks. Organized by the Relay For Life of Abbeville, this charity run was held to help raise money to fight cancer.

The Relay For Life came into existence in May of 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Washington, ultimately raising $27,000 to help the American Cancer Society fight the nation’s biggest health concern. A year later, 340 supporters joined the overnight event. Since those first steps, the Relay For Life movement has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, raising nearly $5 billion to fight cancer. Currently more than 5,000 Relay For Life events take place across 20 countries. I was surprised to find out that included a motorcycle poker run.

3rd annual Relay For Life Poker Run

Bubba Duff, Steve Laughlin, James Price, Lynn Sanders Steadman, Melissa Noffz and James Lollis came all the way from Greenwood, South Carolina, to support the Relay for Life ride.

The Relay For Life Poker Run was a little different from any other I had been on before. After registering at the starting point, you can depart by yourself or wait for a group of riders to gather and leave with them. But the strangest part is that it doesn’t matter which direction you ride as long as you begin by the starting deadline, return by the 3:00 p.m. finish time and make all the stops to draw your cards to win either the best or worst hand.

I overheard that a bunch of riders from Greenwood were scheduled to arrive around noon. I was curious if one of the group might be James Lollis, one of the guys in charge of the Whitten Center Run in Clinton, South Carolina. I received my answer shortly when James pulled into Saxon’s parking lot along with several other familiar faces: Susan Campbell, James Lollis, Lynn Steadman and Bubba Duff.

3rd annual Relay For Life Poker Run

Big John heads west on the scene route, adding a few more miles to his trip.

One group that came in a little later decided to head west on Highway 72 toward Calhoun Falls. They seemed like an interesting bunch since they were talking about getting creative and turning a 40-mile ride into a 70-mile ride by adding an additional 30 on the first leg to Crawford‘s Country Store, one of the poker run stops in Antreville, South Carolina. From there, our third card was found waiting for us at the Spinx gas station in downtown Honea Path. Then everyone backtracked about a quarter-mile to Highway 178 to the city of Greenwood for their fourth card at T.W. Boon’s. The final card of the run was at our ending destination, Natty’s on Trinity in Abbeville.

3rd annual Relay For Life Poker Run

Randy Smith, winner of the 50/50 drawing, took home $80.

Natty’s is just off the town square on Trinity Street and is a great little restaurant featuring good food and a wide selection of craft beers from local breweries. And all the riders took advantage of both while waiting to see who won the high and low hands. There was also a 50/50 drawing and more than 35 door prizes given away this day. Randy Smith was the winner of the 50/50, walking away with $80.

Dave Mauldin from Anderson, South Carolina, provided the music and just the right atmosphere.

At the last count, 31 bikes with 45 riders collected around $2,700 for the day’s efforts. Along with doing a good deed, the bikers got the chance to ride to some interesting places, enjoy some good grub and share a beer or two with friends. It doesn’t get much better than that. So you shouldn’t miss next year’s event. I hope to see you then… and bring all your friends.

(This article Go Your Own Way was published in the July 2014 issue of Thunder Press, South edition.)

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