With more than 250 boats registered for the Pirates of Lanier Family Poker Run on Georgia’s Lake Lanier and more than 1,000 people in attendance for the captain’s party, which featured a band and dinner from Jim ’N Nick’s Bar-B-Q at the Lake Lanier Islands Resort Peachtree Pointe Amphitheater, the ninth annual event went off without a hitch. It also raised an incredible amount of money for a poker run once again.

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A beautiful Fountain Powerboats 47 Lightning runs in the Pirates of Lanier Family Poker Run. Photos courtesy Gordon Media Services

Although a final number won’t be announced for several weeks, Sydney Gordon, vice president of the Lanier Partners of North Georgia, the non-profit corporation behind the annual fundraiser, said the amount is well north of $150,000 already with more expected after all of the financials get sorted out.

“This year’s Pirates of Lanier Family Poker Run was incredibly successful for Lanier Partners,” Gordon said. “It was a rebuilding year for us due to some changes and new leadership on our board and I couldn’t be more proud of what we accomplished. Our locals and our out-of-towners came out to support us heavily this year and brought the new addition of ‘Family’ in our name to a whole new meaning.

“To see our pirate family rally around us to help support the charities was absolutely overwhelming, including that every winner donated the prize money ($9,400 altogether) back to charity,” she continued. “We learned a lot this year and are already planning and gathering feedback for next year. We truly appreciate everyone who supported us through these transitions and we can’t wait to see them all again in 2018.”

Louisiana’s Keith Nunez, who attended the run for the first time in 2016, decided to return to Georgia this July in his 40-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran Hot Pursuit. With his son, Jeremie, by his side, Nunez blazed through the “short poker run,” this coming from the guy who always completes his hometown 200-mile Tickfaw 200 Poker Run, after enjoying the resort’s waterpark for most of the day Friday.

He did admit that he was a little let down that there weren’t as many of the high-performance catamarans to run with or check out on the docks. In fact, he said the Sunset Cove Beach docks looked somewhat lackluster compared to last year and is guessing that spectators were probably left wondering where all the real fast boats were this year.

“I wasn’t disappointed—how can you be when you’re one of the biggest, baddest boats in the run?—but the event was different,” Nunez said. “There was still a huge turnout of boats and a great deal of money raised, the show just wasn’t the same. I’m hoping some of the guys who skipped it this year come back. I know I’m going back. It’s a fun place to boat, the people are cool and you get your money’s worth between the food and entertainment. It also helps that it’s all for a good cause.”

Check out the slideshow above for more images from this year's Pirates of Lanier Family Poker Run.

With the money raised from the event, the LPNG is planning to give back to four charities—Camp Sunshine, a non-profit that enriches the lives of Georgia's children with cancer and their families through recreational, educational and support programs, Camp Twin Lakes, a non-profit organization in Georgia with campsites, day camps and hospital-based camp programs designed specifically for children with serious illnesses, disabilities and life challenges, the non-profit Boys & Girls Club of Lanier (previously Hall County Boys & Girls Club), and Edmondson Telford Center for Children, a non-profit center dedicated to serving abused or neglected children in Hall and Dawsonville, Ga.

Because his recently purchased 36-foot Skater cat is being updated and wasn’t ready for the poker run, local performance boater Steve Freeman ran with his friend, Travis Rushing, in Rushing’s MTI that he purchased a few weeks before Freeman picked up his Skater, and they had a great time.

“We had a lot of fun during the run,” said Freeman, who has participated in every Pirates of Lanier event. “My buddy’s MTI is a very cool boat and it handled the fairly rough poker run conditions with ease. Would I have liked to see more high-performance boats out there with us this year? Of course, but the boats that were there, including John O’Neill’s new outboard-powered 34-foot MTI and Keith Nunez’s Skater, along with several go-fast boats from Fountain Powerboats, Eliminator Boats, DCB Performance Boats, and Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats, were still impressive. It also was cool to see Stu Jones of the Florida Powerboat Club at the event again.

“Hopefully next year we can get more performance boats back—I know the local people really missed that part of the show,” he continued. “In actuality, with some of the BS that was out there about potential speed limits and who was or wasn’t coming to the run, I was pleased to see the showing and how much money was raised for charity.”

Gordon said it was really cool to see one of the longtime supporters of the run, Jarrett Gorlin, whose family started Camp Sunshine, win the “play to win” poker hand, which he immediately donated back to the charities. She also said that the team at Gordon Media Services knocked it out of the park with highlight videos from each day that can be seen on the poker run Facebook page and will be released in an event DVD that is going to be sent to participants in the following months.

With another successful event in the books, one can only imagine how next year's 10th anniversary event will come together. 

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