First ever Red Cross Poker Run kicks off

First ever Red Cross Poker Run kicks off

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The American Red Cross West Central Georgia Chapter hosted their first "Ride for the Red' Poker Run on Saturday March 22 in Columbus, Ga. with the help of their volunteers.

The ride started at 9:30 a.m. from the National Infantry Museum.  There were a total of five stops along the 110-mile route. Registration fees for the drivers and riders as well as donations will all benefit the American Red Cross West Central Georgia Chapter.

"Red Cross didn't organize this," said interim executive director Ryan Logan. "Our volunteers stepped up and did all the organization. We feel lucky to be the recipients of the funds raised. I think the volunteers recognize the work we do for the military families as well as natural disasters and more.  Also, bikers are often very giving. They are doing what they love the most while also giving back to the community."

Thomas Henderson from Phenix City, Ala. is one of those giving bikers. He was the organizer for the Ride for the Red poker ride, and it took him a month to put this together.

"The Red Cross did many things for military families by contacting them if a tragedy happens," Henderson said.

He is a Red Cross volunteer at Fort Benning, and he wanted to help others through the Red Cross.

"I like that the Red Cross allows me to help families who had the same tragedy that I once went through," Henderson said. "I got to help a father who lost his 5-year-old girl to a tragedy. He didn't think anyone knew or understood the pain. But I did."

Henderson lost his 4-year-old daughter Kristina Lee to a car accident almost 17 years ago. He said his little girl loved motorcycles and was saving her allowance to buy her father a motorcycle.

"I found a box of few crinkled dollars Kristina Lee had been saving for me three months after she passed," Henderson said. "We found it in this battery-operated motorcycle she had. My wife and I found the money there. She had her grandma write 'this money is for dad's motorcycle."

Kristina Lee's dream came true. Henderson bought a new bike and engraved her name on his bike.

Henderson said he hadn't been able to ride his motorcycle for almost three years because of a shoulder surgery he received. Saturday was the first day he was able to ride his bike.

"It feels good," Henderson said. "I missed it. I'd always look at my bike in the garage and say 'I'll be back on it one day.' Well, today is that day."

About 75 motorcyclists joined Saturday's Poker Run.

In the Columbus area, the Red Cross responded to 100 local emergencies so far. The organization has been able to help about 450 individuals with apartment and home fires. The local chapter also helped about 750 military families and trained about 6,500 people in life saving skills, like CPR and first aid training.

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