Poker Run raising money for Ladysmith Legion and food bank

The Veterans Motorcycle Club is hosting a fundraising Poker Run that will pass through Ladysmith, Duncan and Shawnigan Lake this Saturday.

The South Vancouver Island branch of the Veterans Motorcycle Club (VMC) is hosting a Poker Run this Saturday to raise money for the Ladysmith Legion and the Ladysmith Food Bank.

They will be hosting their sixth annual Poker Run in honour of the club’s founding member, Mike Starker of Calgary, who was killed in Afghanistan.

“Everybody’s welcome to it; it doesn’t matter what you ride,” said South Island Crew vice-president Bill Mccasky.

Registration will begin at the Ladysmith clubhouse at 910 Third Ave. (at French Street) at 10 a.m., with the ride to follow at noon. The cost is by donation. Participants will ride to designated Poker Run stops, including Duncan and Shawnigan Lake, before returning to Ladysmith for a barbecue by 5 p.m. There will also be 50/50 draws and door prizes.

“We’ll have a few refreshments, think of Mike and all the other veterans in our club that have served and been wounded,” Mccasky said.

Any proceeds made from the ride will be split between the Ladysmith Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Fund and the Ladysmith Food Bank, Mccasky said.

Members of the VMC across Canada have also been fundraising to help one of their own. Cpl. Brock Blaszczyk, an Afghanistan veteran, was severely injured in 2010 when an underground explosive took his lower left leg and severely damaged his right leg. The club is raising money to convert Blaszczyk’s Harley Davidson motorcycle into a trike to allow him the freedom to ride again.

The Veterans Motorcycle Club is open to past and current war veterans and has clubhouses in New Brunswick, Edmonton, Medicine Hat, Calgary and Ladysmith.

Mccasky said the group has been working hard to dispel misconceptions about the club, which sports a three-piece patch as its logo.

“Just because we have a patch on our backs doesn’t make us bad or like television depicts us,” he said. “We, the Veterans MC, are here for the community and all veterans. We just try to give brotherhood and help our community.”

An open house is generally held Fridays at their Ladysmith clubhouse from 7 p.m. on for anyone wanting to come by and learn more or ask questions.

“We want [people] to open their hearts and minds to who we are,” McCasky said.