Memorial poker run this Saturday

Published 11:44 am Monday, July 24, 2017

Funds support Justin Allen Memorial Scholarship

A poker run to raise funds for a scholarship will be this Saturday.

The proceeds go to a scholarship that honors a Lawrence County Army soldier who died in the line of duty.

The 2nd Annual Sgt. Justin B. Allen Memorial Poker Run will be at the VFW Post 8850 at 3026 S. Third St. in Ironton.

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Registration begins at 10 a.m.

It raises funds for the Justin Allen Memorial Scholarship, named for the Coal Grove U.S. Army Ranger, and a team leader assigned to Company D 1st Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment.

The 23-year-old was killed July 18, 2011 during a combat mission in Afghanistan. It was his fourth deployment.

Howard Suttles is in charge of the poker run. Allen’s sister, Jennifer Dickerson, is the director of the scholarship program.

She said the scholarships have all gone to Coal Grove students, so far. To get the scholarship, a graduating senior has to write an essay based on the U.S. Army Ranger creed and how they can apply the principles and standards to their lives.

“And how they can take the vocation they are looking at and use it to help their community,” Dickerson said.

She now lives in Illinois and gave permission to Suttles to set up a poker run.

“We are going to try to make the poker run bigger and better every year,” she said. “And maybe next year, we may open the scholarship to another school.”

With this year being the sixth anniversary of Allen’s death, Dickerson said she is still touched by the support from the community.

“People were really supportive,” she said. “I appreciate the people who remember him and those who want to continue to support what he was all about. Our family appreciates the support his memory”

She said he exemplified the best of being a Ranger, even before he was a Ranger.

“Justin was always such a good and honest person. If he told you he was going to do something, he did it,” Dickerson said. “He was always a giver, not a taker. That is what this scholarship fund is all about, showing people in this area that you can achieve your dreams with hard work. He was a really incredible young man and we still miss him.”

Suttles said he and a buddy, Cody Chaffin, came up with the idea of having an annual event to help fund the scholarship. They thought a poker run would be a great idea.

“I do it because I was friends with Justin all through high school. He was a good guy, couldn’t ask for anyone better,” he said. “And it isn’t often that you get to see people acknowledge people and what he sacrificed.”

Last year’s poker run drew in around 85 riders.

“That was my first one, ever,” Suttles said. He organized another for Chesapeake Officer Aaron Christian, who died from injuries sustained in a crash in September. He expects a larger number for Allen’s poker run this year.

“They are coming from the Carolinas, Tennessee, from northern Ohio,” he said. “I’m expecting between 150-200 people.”

Suttles said that people could just attend the ceremony, that is good too.

“If you are there for the common interest to support Justin and our military that has fallen, you are more than welcome,” he said. “I don’t care if you are there on a bicycle. If you can keep up, you can ride with us.”

The cost of the run is $10 for veterans, $15 for singles, and $20 for doubles. It begins at VFW Post 8850 at 3026 S. Third St. Ironton, with registration starting at 10 a.m. Before the run starts, there will be a flag ceremony, 21-gun salute and Taps played.

“Then kick stands should be up no later than noon,” Suttles said.

The ride ends at Frogtown USA. There will be $10 plates with sides from a hog roast, available to everyone, as well as live entertainment.

“It’s an all day event,” Suttles said. “We don’t stop until everything is gone.”

Suttles said that Glockner of Ironton is presenting the run this year.

Those who wants to make donations can go to the PNC bank in Ironton where a fund is set up.