Sail and Power squadrons raise funds for VIMS

  • Salt Ponds Marina
    Salt Ponds Marina   The first annual Poker Dinghy Run was headquartered at the Salt Ponds Marina in Hampton.  
  • Mermaid Print
    Mermaid Print   Event organizer Bill Walsh (L) presents Kelly Peck with 1 of 7 limited-edition mermaid prints by artist Katie Moyers.  
  • VIMS Booth
    VIMS Booth   The VIMS booth at the Poker Dinghy Run. From L: Frank Hudson of the Colonial Sail and Power Squadron, and VIMS graduate students Matt Whalen, Andrew Wozniak, and Cassie Bradley.  
  • sail_paddle_club.jpg
      Members of the VIMS Sail and Paddle Club took part in the Poker Dinghy Run. Front: Kristy Hill. Middle row L to R: Kevin Spanik, CJ Sweetman, Matt Whalen. Back row: Kristene Parsons, Cassie Bradley, Andrew Wozniak.  
  • pick_a_card.jpg
      Kevin Spanik of VIMS picks up one of his playing cards at the Bell Island Marina on the Back River in Hampton.  
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Two local chapters of the United States Power Squadrons raised more than $3,000 for VIMS during the first annual "Dinghy Poker Run" on April 17th.

The event was organized and hosted by the Colonial Sail and Power Squadron of Williamsburg and the Virginia Beach Sail and Power Squadron, with generous financial support from numerous local businesses.

During the event, boaters aboard kayaks, dinghies, and jet skis visited 4 marinas along the Chesapeake Bay waterfront, choosing the best 5-card hand from the 7 cards they received. Others took part by renting a table to sell items. Participants raised money through a registration fee; pledges from friends, neighbors, and coworkers; and sale of items.

Participating boaters received their playing cards at Wallace's Bait and Tackle, Dandy Haven Marina, Bell Isle Marina, and Salt Ponds Marina. Event organizer Bill Walsh of the Colonial Sail and Power Squadron says "friendly competition for the best hand and associated prizes really encouraged participation and helped raise money to support VIMS and all they do for the Bay."

VIMS, one of the largest marine centers in the U.S., provides research, education, and advisory service to help protect and restore Chesapeake Bay and coastal waters. The Institute offers Master's and Ph.D. degrees through its School of Marine Science, part of the College of William and Mary.

VIMS Dean and Director John Wells says "We're grateful to the power squadrons and all the other participants and sponsors for their time and generosity. Support from the community helps us assure a cleaner environment and better future for Virginia."

Shannon Woods of Hampton took the grand prize, a foosball table donated by Riverside Heating and Air, with a hand of 4 aces. The second-place prize, a fully accessorized kayak donated by Bill Walsh and Bob Beltz, went to Craig Brown of Richmond for 4 kings. The third-place prize, a Dooney and Burke purse/wallet combo donated by Martinee Walsh, went to Mike Randall of Newport News. Fourth prize, a $100 gift card to Bass Pro, went to Charles Lineberry of Hampton. Participants also won several $50 gift cards to Wa-Wa and $25 gift cards to ABC stores during the raffle portion of the event.

Kayaker Kelly Peck earned one of 7 limited-edition mermaid prints by artist Katie Moyers, for raising the most money for a paddle craft. Moyer's mermaid portrait also adorned T-shirts sold during the event. The original painting will be presented to VIMS.

Joining the other paddlers during the event were 7 student members of the VIMS Sail and Paddle club, who navigated their kayaks and a canoe along the course route through the Grandview Nature Preserve. VIMS graduate student Matt Whalen says the event "provided a double whammy—it was a good opportunity to get outside and do something fun while supporting VIMS."

The Power Squadrons' fundraising for VIMS will continue this summer as they raffle off 2 of the mermaid prints at local restaurants. Walsh says "If you see a mermaid when you go out to eat, take a chance on winning her and help us support VIMS."

Walsh adds, "Everyone had a lot of fun, and we had a great turn out for a first-time event. We hope to see everyone next year for the "Biggest Little Poker Run Ever" number 2."