Bikers and other recreational vehicle riders honored the memory of a favorite son Nov. 3 with a celebration to benefit his former church.
Friends of the late Danny “Turtle” Johnson hosted the event to beneﬁt the Historic First Baptist Church elevation and restoration project.
Activities started and ended at the Eagles Hall.
The community experienced a full-blown poker run last Saturday when a series of motorcycles, go carts, golf carts, all-terrain vehicles, rock crawlers, convertibles and pickup trucks filled downtown streets to visit seven checkpoints where they would draw a playing card at each one.
By noon, 40 people had purchased tickets to participate in the game. They would visit seven local businesses and pick up one playing card at each stop, hoping to come up with the best poker hand by 4 p.m.
Brown Jerry’s Brews, Blues and Barbecue, AX2 Guns, D’Angelos, Saddle Up Saloon, Little Ireland Coffee Shop, the Pacific Brew Haus and the American Legion all participated.
Among the crowd that gathered for the celebration was Johnson’s 4-week-old first grandchild, Brandon Means Jr., along with Leah Clark, his longtime girlfriend, and members of his family.
Johnson, who grew up across the street from the historic church, was an avid biker and the self-proclaimed caretaker of the small frame building and grounds. Throughout his adult life, even after he moved away, he maintained the heating and electrical work, repaired the plumbing and cut the grass.
Johnson was the first contributor to the restoration project at the time of his death July 15.
He was a member of the citizen committee that launched a campaign 18 months ago to elevate the church and education building located at 421 S. First St. Norbert Gildehaus, Bob Masson and Brad Reed have spearheaded fundraising activities.
The church and education building have now been elevated and entrance landings have been installed on the south and east sides of the building.
The committee is now focused on renovating the interior of the building so the congregation can hold services there.
The campaign has raised approximately $65,000 in cash. Local contractors have pledged free labor for interior renovation.
Proceeds from the poker run will be used to buy building materials.
Jeff Buchanan drew the best poker hand with a full house, but the real winner of the day was the community, said Gildehaus.
“Any time this many people come together for a good cause, the whole community benefits,” Gildehaus said. “And this is a good cause.”