The Seventh Annual Josh Davis Memorial Poker Run takes place Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 and organizer Jerry Anderson expects approximately 150 motorcycles.
Anderson of Perry and his wife Jill started the run in 2010 after their son Travis lost his best friend, Josh Davis to the war in Afghanistan. Davis graduated from Perry High School in 2009, enlisted in the United States Marine Corp and was deployed overseas shortly thereafter.
Davis was killed in action on May 7, 2010. His parents, Dave and Patty Davis of Perry, wanted to donate a scholarship award to a deserving high school senior and the Andersons thought that the run would “honor Josh, keep his name in people's minds.”
“The original thought was the year that Josh was killed we (Jerry and Jill) rode the Dan Sesker Memorial Poker Run in Ogden,” Jerry said. “Jill and I were sitting at the auction and Jill said, 'This is neat. We should do this for Josh.'”
Jerry went on to say, “Our thought was, if we could give 2, 3, 400 dollars to give Dave and Patty towards that award, that would be 2, 3, 400 dollars they didn't have to take out of their pocket.”
After talking to organizers of the Sesker Run and Big Barn Harley Davidson in Des Moines, the Andersons started the JDMPR.
“Friends and family agreed to help and seven years later, here we are”, Jerry said.
Anderson explained that the event in started in 2010 with 40 bikes and last year there were 150 bikes. Anderson expects about that same number this year.
Safety is very important to Anderson. Because of his 26 years with the Perry Fire Department and Jill's employment with the Adel Police Department, they have a lot of connections.
“When we get to major roadways, we solicit the help of local law enforcement and fire departments to help block roads. We also have our own group of blockers who have done it for many years,” Jerry said.
The local National Guard has agreed to follow the group on the entire route and will be the end vehicle.
“Of course, we have a vehicle at the rear that can help anybody that might have bike troubles along the way,” Jerry explained.
Because of safety concerns, the JDMPR does not encourage cars or trucks to participate in the run and because of that, the organization has hired a bus that people can ride to the same places that the bikes stop. You don't have to be a “biker” to take place in this poker run.
The event starts the morning at the Perry Elks Lodge with kickstands up at 10:30 a.m. They stop in downtown Perry at the Josh Davis Memorial Plaza for a group prayer and then head out on the run. This year's route goes from Perry to Bouton to Grand Junction to Jefferson to Jamaica to Lake Panorama and finally back to Perry and is approximately 130 miles.
After the group returns to the Elks Lodge in Perry, a meal is served and an auction takes place. The public is welcome to attend the auction, which starts around 6 p.m. on Saturday evening.
Generous donations for the auction have been given over the years from businesses and individuals in Perry and surrounding areas.
“Without such great donations, the auction would not take place,” Jerry said. “We are grateful to everyone who has donated over the years. Without those donations, this event would not be the success that it is.”
This year's event also includes a raffle for Ferdinand the Bull, a custom made charcoal grill that looks like a life size bull. Raffle tickets are still available and can be purchased at Wenger Auction at 1323 Second Street in Perry or at the Elks Lodge the day of the run.
The JDMPR also donates to various Veteran's organizations after the scholarship awards are taken care of. The 2016 run found donations going to Operation Retrieving Freedom, Puppy Jake Foundation, Marine Graduation Foundation and Wreaths Across America just to name a few. Jerry says the group also puts money aside to maintain the Plaza when the need arises.
Jerry points out what a huge part the Perry Elks Lodge plays in the run every year.
“The Lodge donates the space, the kitchen, some of the food and helpers to make sure this event runs smoothly,” Jerry said. “And the Lodge has air conditioning. After a long day on a bike in the heat, nothing feels better than that,” he laughed.