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  • June 2 poker run benefits people with traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder

    A motorcycle poker run will be held June 2, with proceeds benefitting services for people with a traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder.

    The event is called Shake, Rumble & Roll, and it is being coordinated by Filling the Gap, Inc. Participants will meet at The Resource Center’s administrative offices, 200 Dunham Avenue in Celoron, between 8:00 and 10:00 to check in and draw a playing card. Following a blessing of the bikes, participants will head off on a route that takes them to seven locations: the Frewsburg Legion, Ellocittville Brewing Company in Bemus Point, Whiskey Hill Saloon in Cassadaga, Sunset Bay Beach Club in Irving, The Resource Center’s facility on Lake Shore Drive in Dunkirk, the Westfield Legion, and the Lakeview Hotel in Mayville.

    Riders will draw one card at each location. After arriving at the Lakeview Hotel, participants will submit a five-card poker hand and a three-card poker hand. The person with the best five-card hand will win $500, while the person with the best three-card hand will win $300.

    A post-run party will be held at the Lakeview Hotel from 2:30 to 5:30, featuring music by the band TPT.

    The entry fee is $20 per person. Money raised through the event will support programs that New Vision Services and The Resource Center offer to people with TBI or PTSD. One such person is John Labadie of Jamestown, who in 2009 suffered a stroke while he slept. The stroke resulted in an extended hospitalization (“They didn’t think I was going to live,” John said.) and left him with a brain injury and physical limitations that required him to have round-the-clock care.

    In 2010, John began receiving supports from New Vision Services. NVS, a Jamestown-based non-profit organization, provides supports that make it possible for people in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Erie counties to live at home rather than move into a long-term care facility. For people with a traumatic brain injury, New Vision offers service coordination, home and community support services, independent living skills training, community integration counseling, and positive behavioral support services.

    “We’re assisting them to become integrated back in the community, instead of being placed in a nursing home or an assisted-living facility,” said Brenda Bunce, the Assistant Manager for New Vision Services.

    She said a traumatic brain injury is “a medical issue that has played a hindrance with the way the brain functions.” A TBI can be caused by incidents such as a stroke, an aneurysm or a car accident. Often, people with a TBI have difficulty expressing their thoughts to others.

    “They may have a TBI, but it hasn’t stopped their thinking pattern. We just don’t know what they’re thinking,” Brenda said. “People don’t want our sympathy; they want empathy. They want us to understand how this has changed their life.”

    John, 55, a former employee of The Resource Center who was working for another area business at the time of his stroke, has not been able to work since that life-changing episode. But with support from New Vision Services staff, he has been able to reclaim some of his independence. Requiring 24-hour care when he left the hospital following his stroke, John has progressed to the point that he now receives assistance for only a few hours each day.

    “I’m good. I’m getting better every day,” he said. I can drive a car, I can go out in the community, go to yard sales.”

    And John, a former motorcycle rider who owned a Harley-Davidson Roadster at the time of his stroke, has plans to one day ride again, though he thinks he will get himself a three-wheeled cycle rather than a two-wheeler. And if Shake, Rumble & Roll becomes an annual event, perhaps he will participate in future years.

    In addition to supporting services that benefit people with a TBI, money raised through the poker run will support activities that assist people with post-traumatic stress disorder. Citing the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Barbara Billings, a Mental Health Clinician at The Resource Center, said 7.7 million adults (3.5 percent of the U.S. population) are affected by PTSD. PTSD can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic or life-threatening event such as war, natural disaster, physical assault, or sudden death of a loved one.

    Barbara said The Resource Center offers a self-determined PTSD/trauma group that meets weekly. She said group members are exploring new ways to process their individual trauma.

    “This group has used art therapy and creative writing exercises to assist the participants find new perspectives and a means of expression where words often fail, to identify personal triggers and learn from each other effective ways to find that place of safety from which to move forward in their life goals,” Barbara said.

    Organizers of Shake, Rumble & Roll are hoping for a good turnout from motorcycle enthusiasts who want to support people with TBI and PTSD. Victoria Trass Bardo, the Development and Events Manager for Filling the Gap, said the idea for the poker run sprang from a desire to create a new community event. Having previously conducted motorcycle dice runs in conjunction with two of Filling the Gap’s other events (the Laurel Memorial Run & Walk and the Step Up for Autism celebration), FTG officials decided to try another motorcycle run, but with a twist. “Instead of shaking dice, we’re going to be drawing cards and making poker hands,” she said.

    Vicky said Shake, Rumble & Rill will take place rain or shine, but that organizers are hoping for a sunny day so participants can enjoy the area’s scenery as they ride throughout the county.

    “What a great way to showcase all of those communities,” she said.

    Click here to register.  For more information, phone Vicky at 661-1477.

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    From left, Shake, Rumble and Roll planning committee members Vicky Bardo, Randy Lewis and Selina Phillips pose alongside Randy’s cycle.


    200 Dunham Avenue, Jamestown, NY, 14701