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Poker Run in New Baltimore to support Gold Star Families Memorial

AMVETS gear up for Sept. 26 event

Sep 09 2020
Nicole Tuttle | The Voice

Participants in a Sept. 26 Poker Run will ride not only to honor fallen service members for a day, but forever, by contributing to a monument in their memory.

The Poker Run hosted by AMVETS Post 52 in New Baltimore will benefit a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Clinton Township. The event is open to the public. All autos and motorcycles are welcome to participate.

The Poker Run will begin at Wolverine Harley-Davidson, located at 44660 N. Gratiot Ave. in Clinton Township. It will conclude at AMVETS Post 52, located at 51285 County Line Road in New Baltimore.

Registration will run from 10:30 a.m. to noon Sept. 26 at Wolverine Harley-Davidson. The event will conclude at 5 p.m. Dining will be served for participants at 6 p.m. The cost to attend is $15 per driver and $10 per passenger, meal included.

Charlotte Randazzo is both a trustee for AMVETS Post 52 and a board member for the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument. She said the Poker Run will be conducted in accordance with all state mandated COVID-19 protocols.

“At the beginning of the ride you are given a scorecard with hands of cards: Hearts, spades, diamonds, clubs. At each stop you pick a card. It is annotated on the score card,” Randazzo said.

Hands are turned in at AMVETS Post 52 when the event concludes, but there are also opportunities for participants to draw extra cards for an additional fee if they so choose before turning in their hand. Cash prizes will be awarded for the best and worst hand of the game.

The event will also feature raffles and door prizes. Randazzo said two quilts will be raffled off, with one on display currently at the post. One quilt will have tickets available only Poker Run day, and the other currently has tickets on sale during post hours of noon to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 8 p.m. Sundays. Tickets cost $20 per person.

Staff Sgt. Tim Chambers, known as The Saluting Marine, will be present at the Poker Run during registration and dining. Chambers is known for rendering a salute at the Rolling Thunder, now called Rolling to Remember, an annual motorcycle demonstration take usually takes place Memorial Day weekend in Washington, D.C. Due to COVID-19, riders were encouraged to ride 22 miles on May 24 in their own communities, and a smaller, socially distanced event took place in Washington, D.C. The event is designed to bring attention to prisoners of war and those missing in action, as well as veteran suicide. Since 2001, Chambers has saluted at the event, Randazzo said.

“Tim Chambers stands in dress uniform and salutes every bike that rides by him, for hours in Washington, D.C.,” Randazzo said.

The term Gold Star describes a family member who has lost someone in military service. It also applies to Next of Kin, known as families who lost someone in other than combat operations. Gold Stars are meant to signify a family’s pride in a loved one’s sacrifice, and first made an appearance during World War I. Gold Stars are placed over a service flag’s blue star when a service member is killed, and many Gold Star families wear a Gold Star lapel pin.

Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments were created by Medal of Honor Recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams. A new Gold Star Families Memorial Monument is slated for 40700 Romeo Plank Road in Clinton Township, near the Clinton Township Civic Center. Groundbreaking and site dedication on this monument is slated for 3 p.m. Sept. 17 and is open to the public.

The ceremony is scheduled to include Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon as the master of ceremonies, posting of the colors by the Clinton Township Police Honor Guard and singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Gold Star families in attendance will be announced.

Brian Cummings and Paul Rogers of U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, or TACOM, are the scheduled guest speakers. Williams will give a recorded greeting. “Taps” will be played. A rifle salute will be given by the police honor guard.

The groundbreaking will include a silent auction, donations will be accepted and attendees have the opportunity to purchase brick pavers to help fundraise for the cause. The goal is to have the monument constructed by next spring or summer, Randazzo said.

Randazzo said that the monuments are identical on the front, but the backs are designed by local board members for each individual monument. Total cost for a monument is about $75,000, Randazzo said.

“We started raising money for it earlier this year. We had hoped to be done raising funds this year, but things got off track because of COVID. We have not had fundraisers this year. The Poker Run is the first fundraiser,” Randazzo said, adding that in spite of this donors have contributed about $31,000 to the project.

Donation links and more information regarding the Clinton Township Gold Star Families Memorial Monument can be found at