A new three-day poker run is being planned for early July, and organisers said in a press conference on May 24 that they hope to raise enough funds to modernise two primary schools in the territory and support the BVI Autism Centre.
The One Virgin Islands Poker Run will kick off on July 1 with a welcoming bar-crawl poker run at Myett’s Chill Zone in Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park, which organisers said will provide a chance for anyone not looking to venture out on the water to still get involved.
July 2 will feature music by VI artists and other entertainment, and the main run takes place on July 3.
“The heart of this is to have fun while making a difference,” said Dr. Michael Turnbull, who created the organising committee.
The event is separate from the 19th annual Leverick Bay Poker Run, which was postponed this year due to Covid-19 regulations and is now scheduled to be held next May.
The One VI Poker Run will begin and end at Paradise Bar & Lounge in Cane Garden Bay. Marketing manager KareemNelson Hull said boaters will take the “scenic route” around the islands, stopping at Foxy’s Tamarind Bar on Jost Van Dyke, steering east to land at Blunder Bay on Virgin Gorda, stopping for a buffet lunch and refuelling at Loose Mongoose on Beef Island, proceeding to the Pier Park, and finally returning to Cane Garden Bay for the final card draw and other evening events.
The poker run falls during the long weekend of Virgin Islands Day, and two weeks before Christmas in July. Mr. Hull said he’s heard strong interest from boaters in Puerto Rico and the United States VI who look forward to celebrating the holidays here.
About $20,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded, and the funds collected from everyone who buys a hand will go toward supporting schools and nonprofit organisations in the VI, Dr. Turnbull said.
The BVI Autism Centre began providing services in 2012 and was badly damaged by the 2017 hurricanes, and it continues to offer assistance to children and adults in the territory. Dr. Turnbull said one of its most recent undertakings is creating a sensory area where children who are overstimulated can regroup.
Organisers said they hope to support one other nonprofit yet to be named, in addition to Ivan Dawson Primary School and Enid Scatliffe Preprimary School.
The biggest focus is outfitting classrooms for sixth graders with Promethean smart boards, computers, and high-speed wifi, they said.
“We now see the importance of technology with the pandemic and online learning,” Dr. Turnbull said. “Why can’t our kids have the best?”
If the poker run is exceptionally successful, he said, organisers hope to add another school to the list.
He added that they believe the event will provide entertainment to participants and help stimulate the economy, but their main focus is giving back to the community.
Mr. Hull said safety will be a top priority, and event organisers will be strict in ensuring boat operators are not drinking alcohol during the run. Captains will attend a 10 a.m. briefing on nautical safety protocols prior to departure, and participants may be disqualified for not adhering to rules like entering harbour below five knots.
“Safety is paramount, and we want to have a good time,” Mr. Hull said.
Participants will also take Covid-19 tests before joining the run, he added.