Poker Tournament Will Benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters, Rotary And Ill Chef

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A blackjack and poker tournament on Thursday, October 24, will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island, the Rotary Club of Westhampton, and A Love Shared, an organization dedicated to helping North Fork chef Gerry Hayden, who was recently diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The fun-filled evening being presented by the McCann Investment Group-RBC Wealth Management, the event sponsor, will take place at the Hotel Indigo off West Main Street in Riverhead. The entry cost of $100 per person includes an open bar and dinner. Anyone wishing to enjoy the drinks and food, as well as a Chinese auction, without playing, can purchase tickets for $65, and local businesses are invited to sponsor tables for $500, which includes signs and two registered seats. Participants are also invited to spend the night at the hotel for reduced fees.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for registration, and both tournaments will begin at 7:30 p.m. Organizers are hoping to have at least 100 players at 10 poker tables and three blackjack tables. The top 10 finishers in the poker tournament and the top five in blackjack will receive prizes that include a stand-up paddleboard, electronics, a gift certificate to the North Fork Table and Inn, 100 gallons of fuel oil, and an all-day fishing trip, among others.

Chad Vanderslice, president of Westhampton Rotary, explained that he approached Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island with the hope of teaming up to host the event as a way to attract more participants. Proceeds will be split among the three organizations. The Rotary raises about $80,000 annually through various fundraisers and each year donates about $25,000 to scholarships and the rest to local organizations, including East End Hospice, Maureen’s Haven and Family Counseling Services, as well as international programs.

Mr. Vanderslice explained that his longtime friend Mr. Hayden, a chef at Southold’s North Fork Table & Inn, was diagnosed in 2011 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an illness commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, and eventually leads to paralysis. There is no known cure. Mr. Vanderslice, Mr. Hayden and his wife, Claudia, were former business partners and opened several restaurants together.

A group of Long Island chefs, local farmers and businesses banded together to create A Love Shared, whose focus is to raise money for ALS research and to help pay for Mr. Hayden’s care and medical costs. Proceeds from next week’s poker and blackjack tournament will supplement those funds.

Westhampton Beach resident Brian Tymann, a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters whose father, William Tymann, served as chief executive officer for the agency for 34 years, explained that the organization had held a poker tournament for the past few years and jumped at the opportunity to collaborate with Rotary. He said he expects it to draw double the attendees this year.

“It’s a really, really great time,” Brian Tymann said. “It’s just a great night all around.”

Anyone interested in participating can visit www.bbbsli.org.

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