Poker rate

Antique tractor poker race raises $16,000 for DAV van fund

ADRIAN – Every 10 years or so, the Lenawee County Disabled American Veterans Chapter purchases a new van to transport veterans to medical appointments in Ann Arbor.

The $16,000 the chapter received last week from the organizers of a vintage tractor poker race will go a long way toward purchasing the next pickup truck.

Britton’s Steve Sommers and Tecumseh’s Bill Bailey presented the check to DAV Chapter 20 representatives Monday at the Human Services Building in Adrian, where the county’s Department of Veterans Affairs is located.

This year’s poker run, the fourth annual, took place on August 13th. It raised $6,200 for multiple sclerosis last year.

“We talked all year long if we got $10,000, we’d be lucky,” Sommers said. When this year’s donations were added up, “we couldn’t believe it.”

“People were very generous,” Bailey said.

Owners of vintage tractors came from as far away as Birch Run in mid-Michigan and Fayette, Ohio. The tractors had to be at least 50 years old to be in the running. Some date from the 1930s. In all, 211 tractors and more than 300 people participated in the 30-mile race in the Britton and Tecumseh areas. It started at Bailey Farms and ended at Wielfaert Farms with stops at the J&L Sports Center and Paul and Linda Hewlett’s farm.

DAV Section Commander Paul Dye said the donation will enable the section to purchase a new van should the need arise. He said DAV chapters work with the national DAV to purchase vans, with chapters responsible for 55% of the cost.

Sommers said Deerfield’s Nick Pulver has connected the poker run organizers with the local DAV so they know how to donate to the DAV’s van fund to ensure the money goes for that purpose.

The county Veterans Affairs Department is coordinating appointments to take the van to Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Hospital, said Audricka Jacob, veterans relief advocate with the county Veterans Affairs Department. The current van can hold nine passengers, but since the VA hospital is still operating under COVID-19 protocols, they only take three passengers at a time and they must wear masks. The federal VA pays for the insurance on the van as well as gas and maintenance.

The county and DAV are still looking for drivers for the van, Jacob said. Drivers can be civilians or veterans, male or female. Positions are unpaid, and drivers must be able to schedule waiting time at the Ann Arbor Hospital. Anyone interested in becoming a driver can call Jacob at 517-264-5335.