Poker face on for Potomac benefit

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A small fleet of boats from the Old Dominion Boat Club sped from the docks of Alexandria, heading north on the first leg of the Leukemia Cup Poker Run for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society this past Sunday. It was the first poker run activity for the Society and the boat club, and after all the boats were in, and cards laid out on the table, $5,000 was raised to help fight the disease.

Dave Beck launched his boat, All Hands on Beck, with an official blow from his conch shell horn. Beck was joined by his wife, Brenda, vice president of the ODBC Carolyn Dabney Bell, and her husband, Steve. Carolyn and Steve originally met at the boat club, and are now owners of their boat, the Dabney Belle.

Our tradition has been to support our community, Carolyn Bell said. The Becks are Old Town residents, and Brenda kept the boat crew well fed with snacks, including a zesty tomatoey salsa that I made from ingredients I grew in my garden, she said.

Art Fox was the top money raiser at the ODBC, and had motivations that ran deeper than the prizes for the winning poker hand.

I have a friend who almost died of lymphoma. Its a real good cause and it sounds like a lot of fun, another excuse to get on the water, said Fox before launching his 40-foot Formula express cruiser named the Formulater.

With that mission in mind, the boats headed up to the first stop in the Washington Channel, where the Port of Washington Yacht Club set up a dockside station to hand out a card to each participant. Other stops were manned by the Capitol Yacht Club, the National Potomac Yacht Club, the SV Alura, (a Leukemia Cup sailboat) and the Cabanas Restaurant at Georgetown Waterfront, which all took part in the Aug. 19 event. Boaters from all the clubs participated in the fund-raiser, and the ODBC hosted the anchorage spot at its club on the Old Town waterfront.

Contributions come in
Kim Rogan Weitzel, a past commodore of the boat club, manned the station back at the club, registering all the boats and collecting donations. She has a relative with the disease, so it was kind of near and dear to my heart, she said. Contributing to a cause like leukemia and lymphoma is typical of the boat club as well. It has been doing benefit functions since the club started 126 years ago.

It encompasses everything our boat club stands for, Weitzel added. In the past, the ODBC has held charitable events for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the American Liver Foundation, T.C. Williams rowing team, Alexandria Public Schools Children with Special Needs program, Salvation Army and the Alexandria Seaport Foundation.

All the boats were back in Alexandria in time for a cookout, while the cards were tabulated. In the end, a total of $5,000 was raised for the effort.

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