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A way of giving back
Poker run aids Shop with a Cop
3 Shop with a Cop pic1
Dozens braved the chilly air Saturday to ride in a poker run to benefit the local Shop with a Cop effort. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

It was a chilly Saturday morning, but not too cold for a motorcycle ride through the north Georgia mountains to help raise funds for children at Christmas.

"When we woke up, it was 38 degrees and had been raining just a couple hours earlier," said organizer Lt. Doug Boyle with the Dawson County Sheriff's Office.

"I was hoping to have at least 100 bikes, but we ended up with about 50. Still, I think that's a good turnout for the weather we were having."

The poker run raised nearly $2,700 to benefit Sheriff Billy Carlisle's annual Shop with a Cop program.

Boyle said many of the riders represented area motorcycle clubs that support local charitable efforts.

"I really want to thank the Gray Beards organization," he said. "They support us wholeheartedly. They sent a lot of bikers out here.

"They actually called me twice before the run letting me know they were definitely going to be out there supporting this cause, and they want to do more for the county."

Carlisle said the Shop with a Cop program is a "way of giving back to our community."

"The officers enjoy going shopping with the kids and seeing them not only buy things for themselves, but a lot of the time the kids buy things for their families first," he said.

About four or five years ago, the initial Shop with a Cop effort provided Christmas presents to 10 local children.

"Last year, they had 47 kids. We may have 100 kids needing help this year with the economy the way it is," Boyle said. "I knew there were going to be a lot of families doing without this year.

"I like riding, so why not have a poker run. This is something I can do to help raise money for Shop with a Cop."

The poker run began at the Dawson County Law Enforcement Center, then went through Suches to Vogel State Park, with riders collecting cards for their poker hand at each stop.

The ride ended at the Dawsonville Municipal Complex, where riders drew their last card and enjoyed a barbecue lunch.

"Thanks to [Deputy] Randy Harkness, all the Boston butts were donated," Boyle said. "Randy took the time to make the barbecue. Everybody loved it. They couldn't say enough about how great the barbecue tasted."

Carlisle said officers have a couple more events planned to support the program over the next few weeks.