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Memorial Poker Tournament Hosted By Hospital Foundation
Tournament committee members, from left, Jon Rivera, Bill Pooley and Paul Rivera are helping plan the Jon Sanders Memorial Poker Tournament to be held Saturday, Sept. 19 at the Oakdale Saddle Club Rodeo Grounds at noon. - photo by Photo Contributed

The Oak Valley Hospital Foundation will kick off its first ever JGS Poker Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 19 at the Oakdale Saddle Club Rodeo Grounds at noon. Depending on the pace of play, the tournament is expected to last into the late afternoon.

This tournament is being hosted in memory of Jon Sanders, a lifetime Oakdale resident who passed away on Sept. 12, 2008, after a 10-year battle against a brain tumor. During the course of his illness he lost his gift for gab and the use of his right side, but that never interfered with his ability to play poker. Poker was the one thing he was able to do by himself and with every wining hand came a smile to his face. (Organizers of the event note that he smiled a lot.)

Over the years the staff of Oak Valley Hospital and Ambulance and Oakdale Fire came to Jon Sanders’ aid more times then one can imagine. As a result of their compassion the Pooley/Sanders family decided to set up a scholarship for those who willingly dedicate their lives to helping others in memory of Jon.

It was decided that the courage and spirit Jon displayed during his illness should not be forgotten, hence the creation of the JGS Poker Tournament. The committee is made up from several emergency service providers: Bill Pooley and Jon Rivera work for the Sheriff’s Department, and Paul Rivera is a firefighter. Their incentive is not only that they want to pay tribute to a friend but also help the careers of other responders. It is the goal of the committee to make this an annual event until the funds can be self-sustaining and generate a sizable scholarship on its own. Other members of the committee are: Jane Pooley and David Torres, Jamie Pooley, Anne Siegfried, Kate Siegfried, Amy Thompson, Penny Muniain, Terry Gilbert and Jon’s immediate family, Larry and Louise Sanders and Danielle Sanders.

All proceeds will become part of a permanent fund (invested without risk) and each year the interest earnings will be awarded to a scholarship recipient that is entering law enforcement, fire or ambulance service, nursing or other emergency services training.

The scholarship committee will pick a deserving recipient each year.

The first year following Jon’s passing, a scholarship was awarded to Nita Stinnett, an employee of Oak Valley Hospital that personally got to know Jon prior to his death. Nita is an RN but currently furthering her education in healthcare.

The Entry Fee to play in the JGS Poker Tournament is $100 and includes 1000 Chip Buy-In, lunch, snacks, beer, soda and the opportunity to win prizes. The last player standing will be the lucky recipient of a 40” flat screen television. 

Other prizes will also be given. The second and third place prizes to be awarded are a $250 Gift Certificate for Black Oak Casino or Bass Pro Shop. Fourth through tenth place will receive a free “buy-in” for next year’s tournament, as this will become an annual event.

There’s even a ‘first out’ prize for the first person to lose all their chips. Several of the committee members admit if they played rather then volunteered they would win this prize. But even being the first loser, you’re really a winner. The First Out prize is a pair of tickets to a Sacramento Kings game.

Donations can be made for those not able to attend, or just wishing to donate to this worthy cause. For more information call the Oak Valley Hospital Foundation at 848-4116 or visit Online registration is available.