The marina in Fall River, Mass., raised $53,000 for two charities.
By Gregg Mansfield
When Michael Lund took over the Borden Light Marina Charity Poker Run 16 years ago, the plan was to get a few boats together and raise some money for charity.
As the Massachusetts poker run has grown over the years, Michael and his wife, Nicole, have turned the August event into a serious fundraiser for charity. This year’s event raised a record $53,000 for Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island and the Tunnels to Towers Foundation in New York.
“The first year he probably had 12 or 15 boats, and honestly, it was just about getting together with people who had common interests and wanted to run their boats on the river,” Nicole Lund said. “Now we’re donating to national charities, which brings in a lot more interest, a lot more boats and a lot more money. It’s really exploded over the years as far as the number of boats and the amount of money that we’re raising.”
The emphasis on charity is a big draw for participants, who came from as far away as Florida to participate in the poker run in Fall River, Mass. This year’s run attracted 48 boats with the majority from the Northeast.
Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats held a lunch run a day prior to the Borden Light Marina Charity Poker Run, so the Bristol, R.I., V-bottom and catamaran builder was well represented at the poker run. Outerlimits plans to hold another lunch run at the 2023 event.
“We actually have several customers at the marina that keep their Outerlimits (powerboats) with us,” Lund said. “It’s funny. Each year we do the program it seems like we gain a performance-boat customer at the marina, which is a bonus.”
The run itself is about 60 miles and organizers changed it up for this year. Instead of stopping for lunch in the middle of the poker run, the 2022 version started with brunch and then set off from Fall River. From there the poker run had card stops in Providence, R.I., Warwick, N.Y., Bristol, Conn., Newport, R.I., and then back to the Borden Light Marina in Fall River.
The dinner, live auction and card hands were turned during the dinner at Pier 52. The nearby Tipsy Seagull restaurant, which is owned by the Lunds, had live music for the night. Raising money for charity was the goal for the evening and the participants contributed in a big way.
Lund said marina customer John Conos grew out his hair over the winter to have it cut off for charity, raising $6,000. Tito’s Vodka and auto dealership Empire Hyundai were the event sponsors, contributing to the record fundraiser.
“All of the (poker runners) registration fees get donated. Anything that’s raised during the live auction or any raffle items, all that goes to charity,” Lund said. “Everyone plays a big role in making the event a success.”
While Mike Lund and close friends George and Robyn Polillio are the primary organizers, customers at the marina step forward to volunteer for the weekend.
Lund said while her husband may not have started the poker run with a grand plan, 16 years later the charity event continues to evolve and break fundraising records.
“Every year we break a record and all of us look at each other and we’re like, ‘How are we going to keep breaking this every year?’” Nicole Lund said. “Once we started donating to national charities, it just blew up in the money being donated. I don’t know when it ends, but we keep breaking records.”