Following the Make-A-Wish activities the prior day, the Saturday main event finally arrived. Engines were cranked, Fenders were stowed, and ugghh PFDs were zipped and snapped! An orderly procession out of the marina that was no easy feat with 117 speedsters maneuvering about to secure their spots for the staggered starts, gave way to the first flag drop.
A big-boy catamaran takeover under the rule of two head-spinning turbines turned the tranquil, reflective ripples of the Saint Lawrence into a cascade of white roosts reaching as far west as Whistler.
Title sponsors and racing partners, Rick Merola and Gregg Rosen's 52-foot, six-seater turbine-powered 2015 MTI Aqua-Mania G3, and Bill Tomlinson's 50-foot Mystic My Way (the 2013 LOTO record holder for hitting 224 mph) powered by twin T-55 Lycoming turbine engines from Whispering Turbines... spooled up their heavenly-sounding helicopter engines and "jetted off" like Maverick and Iceman from Top Gun gliding over the crests.
From card stop one to the west in Cape Vincent, to soaking up the sights in the no wake zones up past Boldt Castle on approach to Alexandria Bay for our lunchtime feast, the run was out of this world.
Come midday, the Village of A-Bay was flooded with fastboats all pouring in simultaneously. You could say it was the second flood to hit this seaside summer sanctuary, since high water levels during the weeks prior to the poker run left about 600 feet of the fixed docks underwater -- and a dock under the water is about as useless as a sailboat without wind.
An emergency plan was set in motion less than a week before the event. Nolan Ferris summoned a group of 20 volunteers to basically help build a new dock above the currently submerged one. All supplies were donated and the entire project was finished in only one day. That's teamwork!
For the second half of the run, it was a sweet hike up to Ogdensburg and then back down into Clayton to get ready for the banquet and live auction. Off the water, the 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run's primary focus is about fulfilling the dreams of the Make-A-Wish children plagued with chronic illnesses, and also to provide aid to local veterans enrolled in the River Community Wellness Program.
This year a trio of wishes were granted beginning with Jake, a 17-year-old musician who will soon be recording his live jam sessions in his personal in-house studio. He and his brother Cody received a standing ovation after performing two of their own hit songs for all of us to enjoy. The duo have formed a group called The Severed Sign, check them out on Youtube and Facebook. Keeping with the musical spirit, rock-n-roll aficionado and co-owner of Double R Performance, Peter Roberts also donated one of his cherished Fender guitars to the cause.
This year Make-A-Wish of Central New York teamed up with the Ontario chapter and for the second live wish, a little girl from Canada was transformed into a princess backstage, and then presented with a trip to Disney World. For the final touching display of greatness, in less time than it takes to send a text, $20,000 was raised to be able to purchase toiletries and sweets to fill specially designed bags that another Make-A-Wish child, Noah can deliver to children at the Syracuse hospital, where he too spent many nights.
Bidding time came next and If Tom Hall's name sounds familiar, it just may not be related to his new blue MTI Just Got Bored. Perhaps it's due to his big heart. This is the gentleman that won the bid on the famous $10,000 cooler last year, and then proceeded to re-donate it. This year... he did it again, donating back "his" winning Aqua-Mania G3 radio-controlled boat which raised an additional $10,000.
In the middle of the action, a lovely fireworks display bought everyone to their feet and out from under the white tent, before returning to wrap up the bidding. It was then high-time to drink and dance the night away, and this time there was no pop-up notification to remind us of our bedtime! The fourth annual 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run promises to be even bigger and bolder than this year, and many supporters stepped up to the plate already offering their services during the final gathering. Planning has already begun and with the dedicated Clayton committee working all year behind the scenes... I can just imagine!