BROOKINGS – A least $39,000 was raised by 655 registered participants Saturday at the 15th annual DAV/727th Charity Poker Run.

Above, the Swiftel Center parking lot filled with motorcycles and riders leading up to the noon departure. From Brookings, the 160-mile route took riders to Flandreau, Madison, Arlington and Estelline to stops at local VFWs and American Legions before returning to the Swiftel Center for poker hand draws, raffles, auctions and more.

Below 1, the riders’ parade through Brookings was reversed this year, with hundreds of bikes traveling from Swiftel Center on the east side of town, west on Sixth Street and then south on Main Avenue.

All proceeds from the run go to the DAV Transportation Network, which helps veterans get to VA medical facilities for appointments. The poker run has raised $225,000 for the network over the past 14 years, not counting this year’s total.

CSM (retired) Robert Foster, one of the organizers of the event, said it got its start after the 727th Transportation U.S. Army National Guard Unit returned to South Dakota after its deployment to Iraq. The group wanted to give back to the community that supported them. The unit went away in 2006, but former members have kept the fundraiser going since then.

Rolling Thunder Chapter 2 from Brookings, with a member shown below, joined the effort and has been a major supporter since 2010.

Foster said the poker run fundraiser wouldn’t be possible without the support of the community, law enforcement, sponsors, donors and others who lend a hand for the event.

COURTESY OF: The Brookings Register

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