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December 18, 2014

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Under watchful eye, bikers aid charity

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Jummel Hidrosollo / Special to the Home News

Justin Tanis, left, of Boulder City, and Trent Wood, of Las Vegas, visit the Hells Angels art gallery during the MDA fundraiser at the Railroad Pass casino.

Bikers raise money for Jerry's Kids

David Quartaro, of Las Vegas, draws a number in order for the highest poker hand. Quartaro was participating in a 50-mile poker run sponsored by the Las Vegas chapter of the Hells Angels. Launch slideshow »

Police were on high alert from Hoover Dam to Henderson on Monday, as 300 bikers from more than 20 motorcycle clubs rode through town raising money for Jerry's Kids.

Officers from Boulder City, Henderson and Metro police roamed Boulder Highway and were armed and wary along the route of a 50-mile poker run sponsored by the Las Vegas chapter of the Hells Angels. Members of the SWAT teams were stationed in the old World War II bunkers above Hoover Dam, poker run organizer James Kimsey said.

A bouquet of red roses received at the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, with a card signed by the Hells Angels, showed the motorcycle group's intentions for the day. The heavily tattooed and leather-wearing men and women used the holiday as an excuse to go for a ride and to help Jerry's Kids, Kimsey said.

The poker run consisted of six stopping points between Henderson Harley-Davidson and the Hoover Dam. At each stop, riders drew a card with a number from 1 to 52. At the end of the ride, the highest total won. The proceeds — a donation of $25 per rider, though many gave more — went to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. A total of $5,000 was raised, Kimsey said.

"Anything to do with kids, we're there," said a member of the Teamsters Horsemen motorcycle club who identified himself only by his road name, Zorro.

The cause did not ease the concerns of police. Boulder City Police Chief Thomas Finn said his officers were out in force because of the presence of what he called an "outlaw motorcycle gang."

Still feeling the backlash from a fight with a rival gang the Mongols during the Laughlin River Run in 2002 that left three people dead and a dozen injured, the Hells Angels organizers were faced with apprehension from law enforcement.

Railroad Pass had initial concerns as well, spokesman Keith McDonald said, but officials decided to participate after meeting with the group's representatives and deciding it was a good cause.

The heavy police presence didn't seem to bother any of the riders.

"It's a great day to get out and ride, and it's for a great cause," said the vice president of the Sober Riders motorcycle club, who gave his name as Wolfman. He and other riders smiled, joked and posed for pictures at a lookout point above the dam.

At stop No. 2, the Boulder Dam Brewing Company, owners Todd and Tony Cook welcomed the hot and thirsty riders. When asked if he was apprehensive about the day, Todd Cook said, "No, not at all. We've been part of poker runs before." Cook said it was good for business and allowed the company to help a charity.

The poker run was more successful than organizers had hoped. They planned to have at least 100 people to take part in the ride. At 11 a.m. the call came in that registration was going to be extended, because riders were still showing up. By noon, more than 300 riders had joined the run.

Henderson Harley sponsored a raffle at the beginning, and vendors of biker goods set up tents at the Railroad Pass Casino to add to the total to be given to the telethon. Members of the Los Angeles County and Riverside chapters of the Hells Angels also showed up.

Bouquets of red roses, like the ones sent to the telethon, were sent to all the companies that helped make the event a success.

Diana Cox is a reporter for the Home News. She can be reached at 990-8183 or [email protected].

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