The countywide Florida Keys Contractors Association is always searching for creative ways to raise money to put back into the community.

From scholarship monies for high school students pursuing a relative vocation to Toys for Keys Kids and giving donations to needy families, the group already holds an annual golf tournament to support their philanthropic efforts.

Last year, board member Dave Tuttle suggested the Contractors Association take note from the Lower Keys Rotary Club that organizes an annual poker run to raise money for their organization.

“We had three dates picked for last year, but with the active hurricane season, it kept getting pushed back,” explained President Chris Gratton.

When they finally settled on a date, FKCA approached Jack Carlson and Byron Goss of Big Time Bait and Tackle to help them with the organization and fundraising.

“The Contractors Association is more than just a bunch of builders,” Carlson said. “They do a lot for the community, and they always go to battle for us on issues that help keep the cost of building down.”

Carlson said that in the slow economy, it was hard to approach businesses and ask for a chunk of change to help organize the event.

“The price was high, but we’ll help to bring some traffic through these bars and restaurants in a slower time of year,” he continued. “With business the way it is right now, we are truly grateful to our sponsors for their support.”

The poker run will begin at Kickoff Party Headquarters, Sparky’s Landing on Key Colony Beach, where participants can pick up their playing card package and nosh on some free appetizers Friday, Oct. 16 beginning at 6 pm. & .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Beginning at 11 am Saturday, participants will have up to seven hours to complete the course.

“The FKCA Poker Run is not a race,” organizers insist, encouraging players to take your time and enjoy visits at each stop.

Participants are urged to visit all stops along the course to increase your chances of winning. Cards will be stamped at each stop to ensure course completion. When participants have picked up their cards and received their stamps, they are advised to organize the best five-card hand and head over to the final stop, Sombrero Resort, for the awards dinner.

First place pays out $1,000, followed by second place for $250 and $100 for third place. All hands must be turned in no later than 6 pm.

Early registration for only $35 ends Friday, Oct. 9 at 6 pm. The price goes up to $45 per person from Oct. 10 until the kickoff party next Friday, Oct. 16.

“We think this is a good deal for everybody,” Gratton said. “Entry fee includes dinner, a t-shirt and lots of other goodies, your playing card and a chance to win $1,000!”

Participants may register at Big Time Bait & Tackle in Marathon or by mail. Checks should be made payable to FKCA and included with an entry form to Big Time Bait & Tackle, 11499 Overseas Highway, Marathon, FL 33050. For questions or more information, visit


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