Poker Run/BBQ exceeds fundraisers’ expectations at Syracuse

Kirt Manion
Syracuse Journal-Democrat

Southeast Nebraska communities joined together in support of Syracuse Volunteer Fire Department Chief Eric Fass and his family with a fundraising event which featured a poker run, BBQ dinner, auctions and more.

In late July, Eric sustained a life-threatening head injury in a livestock accident. 

Funds from the Sunday benefit will help the Fass family through Eric’s long road to recovery and rehabilitation.

“We had an amazing fundraiser where communities from all over the area came together to support Eric and his family,” said Christa Lee Reisdorff, an organizer for the Fass benefit who released statements on behalf of the Fass Benefit committee. “There was an overwhelming amount of people that showed kindness in so many ways.”

The event saw 316 poker hands sold and approximately 113 vehicles participate in the poker run. People brought their ATV’s, UTVs, side-by-sides, vans, pick ups and RVs. There were fire trucks in the line up as well. And tractors pulled hayracks loaded with participants.

The winner of the poker run was to win half of the money collected in registration fees, but in the spirit of the event, gave that money right back to the Fass family.

That set up an amazing evening with the auctions as many items sold. One of the items, a fireman’s quilt, was purchased and donated back for re-sale several times before finally being donated to the Fass family.

Getting an idea of the number of participants at the event is no easy task. The feel of it was definitely impressive, however. Reisdorff said estimates could be 1,000 or more, but an exact number is hard to know since some participated in the poker run only and others came for the dinner and auction while some attended both events.

Meals served might be one way of showing how many people attended, at least for the BBQ dinner, which was courtesy of   Orchard Hill BBQ. Out of 500 pounds of meat prepared for the event, just 40 pounds were left following the dinner, with that meat sold off in to-go containers.

“The amount raised at the fundraiser far exceeded our expectations,” said Reisdorff. “We so wish we could name everyone that we want to thank, but in fear of leaving someone out, we just want to say thank you to every single person who gave in every way to make this possible.”

Reisdorff said the idea of a poker run and BBQ fundraiser event was one that came to her soon after the accident back in July. As she began to get the idea off the ground, more and more people rallied to help make it happen. The location of the event changed several times with the next location being larger to accommodate more people who were interested in attending. It ended up being hosted at the Coop in Syracuse. And the event date and time changed several times too so as to allow as many people as possible.

“Around a dozen people worked hard to plan this event while also working our day jobs, taking care of our families, and keeping up with our other commitments,” said Reisdorff. “Some of us had experience with similar events but nothing like this. The support we received was incredible. I personally want to thank each committee member for their dedication. There is absolutely no way I could have done any of this without each and every one of you.”

The idea of the fundraising event was to show support for a family and a man that means so much to so many. And the support shown just verifies one fact.

“No one fights alone in a small town,” said Reisdorff.

Pictured with the Syracuse Volunteer Fire Department members are some of the fire departments that came to support the Fass Family including Auburn, Cook, Douglas, Dunbar, Genoa, Lincoln, Nebraska City, Papillion, Plattsmouth, Shubert, Sterling, Talmage and Unadilla.  Also pictured are Amanda Fass, Eric's wife and their children Jaden, Abraham and Braxton.