By ANDREA GALABINSKI, firstname.lastname@example.org
Over $11,000 was raised and over 300 motorcycles were part of the Fifth Annual Pete Renner Poker Run For Catie Sunday, May 18.
The day-long event was held to raise funds for the costly medical care for 3-year-old Catie May Stephens of Cape Coral, who was diagnosed at age 2 with stage four neuroblastoma cancer.
“And we still have money coming in,” said Pete Renner Foundation volunteer Jane McKenzie, whose group hosted the event.
The event was a trek from both the north and the south, with bikers riding from the north from the Harley-Davidson in Fort Myers, and from the south from Harley-Davidson in Naples. The event ended at North Fort Myers Harbourside Grill & Tiki Bar, located in the Marinatown Yacht Harbor, off Hancock Bridge Parkway.
“The event was a big success,” said Harbourside manager Bobby Joe Langston. “We raised a lot of money for a sweet little girl and her family that needed our help. Everyone in the community came through.”
Catie’s family went on stage and thanked the participants for their generosity.
This was the second big local fund-raising event by the Pete Renner Foundation. Earlier this year Harbourside was also the base for its “Band Together For Grobe” event to benefit local musician Tim Grobe.
The foundation was created by dedicated dad Tim Renner, who started yearly benefits for sick children after dealing with his own child Tim’s astronomical medical bills from a brain tumor. All of the Renner children, including Pete, who is alive and well, traveled from other parts of Florida and different states to support the event.
Local bands A200, DVS, Tree Top Flyers and Deb & The Dynamics all donating their time for Catie’s benefit.
One of the guests of honor was last year’s run beneficiary, Emma Hall, who attended with her parents Steve and Michelle.
“Emma has a brain tumor,” said Michelle. “Last year’s event was wonderful.”
“It makes me want to go out and buy a motorcycle,” said Steve.
The parents said Emma’s treatment was done in Los Angeles, so the funds helped tremendously. The therapy costs $13,000.
There’s also a Walk-A-Thon at Westminster Golf Course in Lehigh Acres on May 31. Anyone who wants to participate can call 368-2227. Donations for Emma can also be mailed care of Emma’s Medical Trust to 2251 W. End Ct., Lehigh, FL 33973.
“Doctors said this child probably would not live past age 5. She not only celebrated her fifth birthday last November, but has learned to walk since she was PRF’s 2007 child,” said McKenzie.
On a sad note, one of the key volunteers for the group, Patty Morris of Cape Coral, was in a motorcycle accident right before the event. She did not survive.
“Patty was the one who brought Catie to us, and secured major sponsor Lusk, Drasites, Tolisano & Smith Law firm. She was Dominic Valentine’s secretary there,” said Renner. “She will be incredibly missed. She was instrumental in this event.”
Renner said a Memorial Web site for Patti Morris was created by Deann Morris. You can visit the site by going to http://Patti-Morris.virtual-memorials.com. At this site, you can read about Patti Morris, post a greeting, share in the guestbook, view a photo album and more.
The foundation is still accepting donations toward Catie’s medical care. Donations can be made via Wachovia Bank account #2000028688460.