A community-led fundraiser held on February 26, 2022 raised thousands of dollars for four rural Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools (WRPS).
Schools receiving donations include Pigeon Lake Regional, Lakedell Elementary, Falun Elementary and Pipestone Elementary School.
When asked by attendees why schools were selected for the fundraising as opposed to an ice rink or community sports team, event organizer Corey Kozack said these areas encompass a small portion of the community.
He explained that donations to rural schools in the area are vital because education is so important and more families can benefit by having more money for their local school.
“When we do schools, it’s 100 percent us,” said Kozack.
Kozack also said he wants rural school students to have the same opportunities as urban schools, including elective classes and more that can only be made available through bigger budgets and more funding.
The annual fundraising poker rally at Pigeon Lake, renamed the West of the Fifth Winter Poker Run this year, raised the bar again with the biggest turnout to date for the event in February this year.
“You couldn’t have ordered a better day,” Kozack said.
Over 1,000 participants and 700 vehicles took part in the Poker Run fundraiser, and nearly 100 volunteers, including children from the donated schools, helped with the day’s activities.
Kozack says attendees traveled from all over Wetaskiwin County, central Alberta and more — some even traveled from Fort McMurray and Calgary for the day at the lake.
“We had a very good year,” said Kozack. “It was a great day and a good boost for Pigeon Lake.”
“We want to grow this into the premier winter event for central Alberta.”
Kozack says the event organizers can’t say enough about the Ma-Me-O and Pigeon Lake community, which welcomes events like this with open arms.
The poker run, excluding the 50/50, raised a grand total of $40,744, with $9,361 going to each of the four schools, $1,000 to the South Pigeon Lake Fire Department, and $300 to Santa’s Elves (a Pigeon Lake Christmas charity). ) were donated. .
The 50/50 raised $11,500, portions of which are split and shared with the four schools.