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Poker run helps families of sick kids

May. 18, 2013 @ 11:10 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Another family with a sick child will receive financial assistance following the 12th annual Luke Simon Memorial Ride, held Saturday at Charlie's Harley-Davidson in Huntington.

The first ride was held in June 2002 for the Simon family, whose son, Luke, was battling cancer. He died a month later, but the family has always been thankful for what friends did by hosting that first poker run.

Since then, the Simon family has worked to pay it forward, helping families in similar situations to pay for medical care or transportation and lodging.

In some way, they said, they can see that Luke's life had purpose.

"I miss him every day," said his mother, Karen Simon. "I was angry about losing him, but after a few years, we saw this was helping. Over the years, we've helped 20 different families."

Leah Simon, who will be a senior at Huntington High School, remembers losing her older brother. She said planning the memorial ride brings back those sad memories, but she also said it motivates them to keep going so his name can continue making an impact in the Tri-State.

"I know we are doing good for someone," she said. "Hopefully, we can continue the tradition."

That shouldn't be too hard, as many bikers have participated in the event for years because they also believe in the mission.

"This is one we ride in every year," said Vickie Long, who participates with her husband, Bill. "It helps so many kids and families. It's a really good cause."

It was the first for Lynn Smith, a friend of the Simon family who said she has always had scheduling conflicts in the past. She said the family should be commended for working to ease the burdens of others.

"I think it takes an awful big heart to turn a tragedy into something like this," Smith said. "It shows a dedication to others who have been through the same thing."

For more information about the families they've helped, visit http://www.i-m.co/LSMR/LSMR/about.html.