VOLUNTEER SPIRIT – Members of the Joey Guest Memorial Foundation have been working hard to plan this year’s 11th annual Joey Guest Poker Run, benefitting the family of the late Scarlett “Sassy” Annette Stewart, a South Fulton toddler afflicted with Infantile-onset Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 7, IOSCA7, a disorder that affects the cerebellum of the brain. Sassy died at the age of two on June 12, while event organizers were planning the Poker Run and Blackout 5K. The money raised will help offset family medical expenses and loss of income for her mother who stayed with Sassy during diagnosis and as the disease progressed for the child. Volunteers and organizers include (Seated, L to R) Kenneth Park, Miranda McKee, Koren Park, Rose Johnson and Audrea Spurlock, (Standing, L to R) Gina Harrison, Michael Talley, Jason Foust, Shelia Thompson, Riley Simmons, Tammy Rochelle, Mike Wright, Jeff Walters and Christel Laney.
BY SABRINA BATES
MARTIN (September 18) – An annual tradition for a group of local volunteers continues as finishing touches are put in place for the 11th annual Joey Guest Poker Run. The poker run became a favorite for the late Joey Guest, a Martin man who died in a motorcycle wreck in February 2011. It was a project Guest took part in to help raise money for local families and organizations yearly through a poker run and auction event. After his death, Guest’s family and close friends carried on the tradition, naming it in his memory. Ten years later, the non-profit organization, the Joey Guest Memorial Foundation, is made up of some of the same spirited volunteers, with more added every day.
Although the host venue has changed from the American Legion Post #55 to the Hawk’s Nest in Martin, courtesy of owner Jeff Walters, the event promises to be just as meaningful and exciting for participants. The group started planning the poker run event a few months ago to benefit Scarlett “Sassy” Annette Stewart of South Fulton. Sassy, 2, of South Fulton, was diagnosed as an infant with Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 7 (IOSCA7). The rare disease mostly affects those later in life. IOSCA7 is hereditary, progressive, degenerative and is often fatal as there is no cure. Family members noted it was determined through genetic testing Sassy inherited the condition from her father, who is now starting to develop small symptoms of the disease. In the United States, only 150,000 people are diagnosed with SCA7 and 1 in 300,000 are affected. The disease caused rapid volume loss of Sassy’s brain as it affected her cerebellum. It impacted her eyesight, kidneys, lungs and muscle loss. Sassy succumbed to the disease June 12, 2021.
Upon her death, organizers moved forward with honoring Sassy’s family after her mother missed more than a year of work to stay with her daughter.
“The Joey Guest Memorial Foundation will continue with our decision for ‘Sassy’ to be our 2021 recipient. Sassy’s mother missed more than a year of work to stay with her Sassy and will need help to get back on her feet for what the rest of the family might need,” organizers noted. With that announcement, Saturday’s event is shaping up to offer a little something for everyone.
All street legal vehicles are welcome to join the Poker Run. Registration begins at 10 a.m. at the Hawk’s Nest on Church Street in downtown Martin. Kickstands go up at 11 a.m. Stops will include Church Street Pool Room in Union City, Lenny’s in South Fulton, JW Brewskies in Gleason, Lil’ Darlin’s in Sharon and back to the Hawk’s Nest in Martin. The cost to ride is $15 per person; $20 with a passenger. Each stop must be made to draw a playing card or the hand will be disqualified. The prizes include $100 for the Best Hand and the Worst Hand winner will receive $75.
For those not interested in the scenic ride that day, but still want to contribute, barbecue plates will be sold beginning at noon Saturday at Hawk’s Nest for $9 each. After the poker run, stop by at 6 p.m. at the Hawk’s Nest for a variety of live and silent auction items from Weakley and Obion county businesses and individuals. A Bike Show is planned after the run. There will also be a raffle for a Charles Daily AR-12S gun; two $250 cash raffles and a 50/50 drawing.
Taking the stage that night at the Hawk’s Nest after the auctions conclude is the band, Overwatch.
In addition to Saturday’s event, the Joey Guest Memorial Foundation is carrying on the tradition of the annual Blackout 5K Run.
That event kicks off at 7 a.m. Saturday, September 25, at the Martin Recreation Complex. The cost to enter the 5K Blackout Run is $25, with group rates for 10 or more people. That cost is $15 (price includes a T-shirt) or $10 (without a T-shirt). T-shirts and glow accessories are provided for the runners, along with water and bananas following the race.
Medals will be awarded for winners in the following age groups: 12 and Under; 13-19; 20-29; 30-39; 40-49 and 50-plus. There will be male and female awards in each group, along with an Overall Male and Overall Female Medal awarded that day.
Whether it’s riding, walking or running, the Joey Guest Memorial Foundation has prepared two events designed for fun, but keeping with the spirit of coming together for a cause. For additional information about the Poker Run or Blackout Run, contact Kenny Park at 731-514-5057. Contact Alisse Kirk at 731-571-5152 for additional information about the 8th annual Blackout 5K.