The holder of an ace-high flush beat 77 other hands to win this year’s second annual “Rally Round the Valley” ORV Poker Ride held here last Saturday.
The event, sponsored by the Chewelah Sons of the American Legion, raised nearly $2,500 to benefit the Inland Northwest Honor Flight.
“Every penny of the proceeds will benefit the Spokane chapter of Honor Flight and will be used to fly World War Two veterans from our area to Washington D.C. to see the memorial built in their honor at no cost to them,” said event organizer Larry Peterson.
“This trip is a three-day marathon for our World War Two veterans. On the first day, they fly to Baltimore. The second day is an all-day sight-seeing tour in Washington D.C., which includes a visit to their memorial. Then, on the third day, they fly back home. The round trip flight, the lodging, and the meals are all paid for by Honor Flight. The veterans do not pay a single cent.
“There are not very many World War Two veterans left, so time is of the essence. On the last flight, there was a veteran in a wheel chair who was 99 years old, but he was a lot of fun and told a lot of great stories.”
The Inland Northwest Honor Flight, headquartered in Spokane, has made it possible for nearly 40 World War Two veterans to make the trip to Washington D.C. Four have been from Chewelah. Two have been from Colville.
Because of the increased cost of travel, the $2,500 from this year’s rally will pay the cost of about two and a half veterans to make the trip.
“Just a few years ago, we could send a veteran for about $300,” said Peterson. “Now, it costs $1000 apiece.”
This year’s Rally Round the Valley attracted 78 four-wheelers and a total of 98 participants. There were 60 ATVs and 18 UTVs. This is an increase from last year’s event, which drew 68 riders. Peterson’s goal is still to draw over 100 riders to Chewelah.
“I’d say that two-thirds of the riders came from over 20 miles away,” said Peterson. “The two who drove the farthest were from Olympia and Lacey on the coast.”
This year’s course traversed 55 miles of roadways on the east side of Highway 395. There were no accidents and only one vehicle had mechanical problems.
“We could never have done this without the help of our Chewelah businessmen, who donated money and merchandise for the prizes,” said Peterson. “I can’t say enough about them. Because of them, the ride was all profit.
“The businesses here in Chewelah give their support to so many organizations and activities.”
Remember that those same local merchants recently gave $20,000 to help fund the swimming pool.
Larry and his wife Elizabeth have been supporters of Honor Flight ever since their son Justin started raising money for this veterans aid organization two years ago when he was a fourth grader.
By Geno Ludwig, The Independent Staff
In This Photo: ORVs lined up at the Jenkins High School parking lot before the start of the Rally Round the Valley. Jared Arnold photo