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Poker tourney to benefit families of fallen first responders

By Staff | Feb 28, 2019

A first-time event, Brotherhood Ride Poker Tournament, will be held in Cape Coral this weekend to raise money for an organization that honors those who have died in the line of duty.

The tournament will be held Saturday at Cape Coral Elk’s Lodge #2596, 850 Lafayette Street. Registration is $100 and includes entry into the poker tournament, a meal provided by Mission BBQ and one beverage.

The first place winner will receive $1,000 cash prize.

Those who are interested in registering can do so at www.bhrpoker.eventbrite.com.

Jeremy Louzao, and his wife Emily, decided to put on the poker tournament to raise money for the organization, Brotherhood Ride.

“Each year they ask the riders to go out and do some fundraising,” he said. “It all goes back to the men and women’s families that we are honoring.”

In addition to the poker tournament, there will be music, a cornhole tournament, food, raffle prizes and a silent auction.

“It’s more of an event. Come out, hang out. There is a big outside bar. It’s a big event for people to come out and support the Brotherhood Ride,” Louzao said.

Louzao, who works for the San Carlos Fire Department, said he got involved in the Brotherhood Ride after one of the guys he works with participated in a ride in 2016.

“It’s one that I got into,” he said of the organization. “My heart is into it. The first year I did it I wanted to get involved. It is definitely for me and where my heart is at.”

The nonprofit organization, Brotherhood Ride, began by Jeff Morse after hearing about the nine Charleston, South Carolina firefighters who lost their lives while fighting a fire to save others.

“Jeff Morse was sitting at the fire station wanting to find a way to show the families and community of Charleston that the guys were going to be remembered,” Louzao said.

The idea of showing not only financial support, but emotional support for the families that lost their loved ones turned into Brotherhood Ride, first responders riding their bikes nearly 600 miles from Naples to Charleston.

According to the Brotherhood Ride website, over the past 10 years, they have honored the memory and sacrifices of 531 emergency first responders – firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical personnel. That was done on bicycles on more than 8,000 collective miles through 16 states. The organization has donated more than $400,000 to the families left behind.

“Most of the rides are in Florida,” he said, adding that they have traveled to New York City.

The rides are for the first responders, their families and coworkers, so they will never be forgotten. They typically take place on, or near the anniversary of the death of the first responder.

“It really is a great organization and great cause,” Louzao said. “We want them to know that people they have never met before, that we are there for them.”

In 2017, he joined the ride, which took place from North Collier County to Miami. The route took the riders north to Sanford, down the east coast to Miami. The following year, Louzao traveled from North Collier, up the east coast to Lakeland before finishing in Tallahassee at the state memorial for fallen firefighters and state police.

Louzao never did a great deal of bike rides, nor did any cycling, before getting involved a few years ago. He said the riders are all police, firefighters and EMS personnel.

The Elk’s Lodge have been huge supporters for the organization.

“They are the ones that house us and feed us. Most of the places we stop at are Elk’s Lodges,” he said.

Although this year’s Brotherhood Ride has not been officially scheduled yet, he believes the date will be in October. This year they will honor City of Fort Myers Police Department’s Officer Adam Jobbers-Miller and Cape Coral Fire Department’s Michael Camelo Jr.

There is an amazing support staff that takes a drive and maps out the safest routes for their bicycle ride. They also coordinate with local fire and police departments to escort them in the bigger areas they travel through.

“We stop in many places along the way for the people we are honoring,” Louzao said.

When they make stops along the way, bagpipes are playing, refreshments and drinks are provided.

“It’s hard to describe the families of your brothers and sisters that have died in the line of duty and what it means to me,” he said, adding that when they make the stops they also “see the heartbreak on the families faces a year later.”

For more information, visit www.brotherhoodride.com.