Friday, April 18th, 2014

Poker run honors fallen soldiers

Three men with local ties who sacrificed their lives for their country will be honored during a fundraising poker run.
The inauguralBikes for the Brave poker run will take place July 16 at American Legion Post 283, located at 7725 Refugee Road, Pickerington.
Proceeds from the event will go to the Wounded Warrior Project, said Monica Gladwell and Mike Strahle, the events coordinators.
“The Wounded Warrior Project is something that we both have an understanding of, and know the importance of these men and women who return from combat injured having the resources they need to rehabilitate, Gladwell said.
Registration for the poker run begins at 9 a.m., followed by an all-you-can-eat breakfast for $4. The first bikes will go out between 11 a.m. and noon, with four stops as part of the run.
At 5 p.m., live music will begin, as well as food, drinks and raffles. The Columbus Police Pipes and Drums will be on hand at 7 p.m.
The event honors three soldiers with local ties who were killed in action. Cpl. Dustin Derga, a Lima Company Marine, was killed in Iraq in 2005. The Pickerington native was known to his family and friends as funny and caring, said Gladwell, who graduated with Derga in 1999 from Pickerington High School.
“Mike was in the Lima Company Marine unit with Dustin, she said.He was a friend and brother in arms with him. He is very close to the family, as am I.
Gladwell also has ties to the second soldier being honored at the event, Adam Knox, who was her cousin.
“He was such an amazing guy and I want to honor and give back in his name, she said.
Knox, who served in the U.S. Army and was a graduate of Westland High School, was killed in Iraq in 2006.
The third honoree is David Johnston, a Pickerington High School graduate who was killed in Vietnam in 1969.
“The Pickerington American Legion was named in his honor, so we felt it only fitting to honor him as well, Gladwell said.
Event organizers say their goal is to have 400 bikes attend the poker run, which begins at the American Legion.
“From the legion they will drive through the Glen Rest Cemetery on Main Street where an honor guard member will be at the entrance with an Army flag representing Adam Knox, Gladwell said.Then as they drive through, there will be an honor guard member at both Dustin Derga and David Johnstons grave sites.
From there, bikers will head out to Fillin Station, Wanna Bes, AMVETS, Heritage Lounge and back to the Legion for that evenings festivities.
Those in attendance at the event may also view The Lima Memorial Paintings, which will be on display at the Legion July 15-17. The paintings by Anita Miller pay tribute to the 23 Marines of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment, who died in service while deployed in Iraq between May and August of 2005.
For more information on the event, email Gladwell at

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