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The Poker Walk

Author: Joel Sutherland, Development Director

Many people believe there is NOTHING they do to raise funds and teach more people about Ataxia.  Wrong! Not only are they wrong, but they can be missing out on having fun as well. 

Earlier this year, I invited five people to invite five others (and a guest) to take part in a Poker Walk.  What’s a Poker Walk?  Well, let me tell you what I did. 

I bought five decks of cards. Total cost of about $25.  Then, I bought 300 privacy envelopes (about $22). Privacy envelopes are important because you don’t want people to be able to see inside the envelope. 

With the cards and envelops set, I found four restaurants within walking distance of each other. I met with the manager of each restaurant and asked if it would be okay with them if I brought in 50 people on a Saturday afternoon to have some food and beverages. Of course they all said yes and when I told them it was a fundraiser for those who live with ataxia, they even gave me gift cards to use for prizes. 

We started at an American Legion.  People arrived at noon and for 45 minutes they signed-up, they made a donation to the National Ataxia Foundation as their participation fee and had some snacks and beverages. Then, right before we left, participants each grabbed an envelope, with a playing card in side and off we went to our first top. 

We stopped at three other restaurants, ordered some snacks and beverages and right before we left, each participant would grab another envelope.  When we returned to the American Legion, participants received their final envelope. Then it was time to see who our winners would be for the day. 

I had each person open their envelopes, one at a time. I yelled out, “any aces?”  Then I yelled out, “any pairs?’  We had everyone open their envelopes and share with us the poker hands they were dealt.  The winning hand won a moonlight cruise for four on a nearby lake donated by a friend.  Other winners won Minnesota Twins tickets and gift cards for local restaurants. 

This was so simple and fun.  There was no minimum donation which helped get more people involved.  When it was all said and done, we had raised more that $1500 and were able to tell dozens more about this “thief” called Ataxia. 

For more information about this event or to talk about ideas you may have, reach out to me at 


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