Over 150 People Attend 10th Annual Friends of Christian Poker Run Event

CLARION CO., Pa (EYT) – Over 150 people attended the Friends of Christian Poker Run and Pig Roast benefiting three-month-old Stephen Pierce.

(Pictured above: Bikers prepare to ride for the 2022 Friends of Christian event. Photos of the 2022 event by Carey at CM Photography.)

Stevie has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), which the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says is a genetic disease that affects the spinal cord and nerves. This causes muscles to deteriorate and become weak. If left untreated, it continues to worsen and may result in death. Many of the treatments for SMA put in a copy of a gene to replace the missing or nonworking genes that direct motor neurons’ activities. In this case, the new gene tells the neurons to produce a protein that is necessary for the cells to survive but would not be produced due to SMA.

2022 Friends of Christian Recipient Stevie Pierce.

2022 Friends of Christian Recipient Stevie Pierce.

Friends of Christian’s Rodney Beck was excited about how well the 10th-anniversary event went.

“We had over 150 people attend the dinner and event at the Limestone Fire Hall,” Beck said.

“We were able to give the family the most money we’ve ever been able to give. Stevie’s parents came to registration and took a vehicle to participate in the ride. His mother brought Stevie to the fire hall early and stayed all day. She tried to help us many, many times. We kept reminding her it was the family’s day.”

The family requested that the amount of the donation be withheld.

Stevie’s mother, Amanda Wentling, said she was very emotional when she found out how much money the charity had to give them.

“As soon as I heard how much money was raised, I was in shock,” Wentling said. “We’re thankful for the family and friends who showed up, and we made many more friends while we were there.”

Wentling said she and her family plan to help Friends of Christian moving forward, which is common with the charity. Beck said the families of four previous recipients attended the event. The charity’s namesake, Christian Burgdorfer, made it to the dinner as well. Burgdorfer suffers from Immune Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP) and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). ITP has the immune system attack the body’s platelets, and POTS is a form of dysautonomia, which is a problem with the autonomic nervous system.

2022 Friends of Christian recipient Stevie Pierce and his family.

2022 Friends of Christian recipient Stevie Pierce and his family.

Beck thanked the sponsors for the poker run and pig roast, especially Knichel Logistics.

“Knichel Logistics provided a separate cash donation,” he said. “They were the number one sponsor for third year in a row. They have donated every year of the event. We had over 97 small-ticket Chinese auction items, plus 12 big-ticket items, including two fire rings and a special 10th anniversary engraved knife. All of these were donated or sold to us at a big discount. The event was the smoothest and best-coordinated event since I have been involved. This was due to the volunteers and membership of Friends of Christian. Everybody worked tirelessly up to and including the day of the event. This in concert with the unbelievably generous sponsors and donors who made the event a joy to be associated with this year.”

The event may be over, but the generosity of the community continues.

“We are still receiving emails and calls from people who want to donate to the family,” Beck said. “The family was fantastic. Everybody there fell in love with Stevie. What a sweetheart!”

Riders in a past Friends of Christian event.

Riders in a past Friends of Christian event.

This is Part Three of the 10th running of the Friends of Christian Poker Run and Pig Roast.

Part One can be found here, including information on previous events and about Christian Burgdorfer, for whom the group is named.

Part Two can be found here, which includes more information about Stevie and his family.

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