Poker Run supports Austin’s House |

Poker Run supports Austin’s House

Byron and Kristi Koury, Jennifer Koury (red bike), David Koury and Jenelle Bailey (at rear) take part in the Austin's House Poker Run south of Gardnerville Saturday
Brad Coman |

Cyclists and motorists of all kinds rode and drove into the Heritage park sporting pink bandannas and shirts in honor of Austin Kirby during the Austin’s House poker run Saturday.

Austin’s House, located in Douglas County, provides emergency shelter and care for children between the ages of birth to 18 years old. The children placed at Austin’s House have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect, and through no fault of their own.

Austin Kirby was a local boy who passed away unexpectedly in 2005.

Patty Clark, head of the Austin Kirby foundation and Austin’s grandmother, said after Austin passed away she went to the board of the Carson Valley Children’s Home, which was an idea in it’s infancy at the time and asked if the name could be changed to Austin’s House in memory of Austin Kirby. Everyone concurred as long as Clark agreed to organize a drive to raise the money to build, equip and furnish the house. Once the arrangements were made, she went to work, with the help of family and many friends and associates.

“Because I have great friends and good contacts, we were able to make it happen,” said Clark. “Jim and Shele Pandl, Mike and Karen Smith, Pete Beekhof, Chip Hanly, many agents in the community, business owners, and so many more worked so hard and faithfully to help us get it done. We raised over one million dollars in cash, labor, and material donations within the first year to build Austin’ s House and since then 100 percent of proceeds from the annual poker run and other fundraisers goes directly to Austin’s House.”

Jenny Villalobos, Austin’s mother said that after his passing, the family decided to coordinate with the children’s home to channel their energy in another direction by devoting it to a worthwhile case in his memory.

“It really helped with the mourning process and we were able to come together as a family to continue to show our love for Austin and to do something good within the community at the same time, ” said Villalobos.

Austin’s sister, Patty Kirby, said the poker run fundraiser is different from any other car show.

“It’s not just a show, everyone knows why they are here and come to support the cause,” said Kirby. “Amazing people show up, and it’s fun to see all the pink and to have the support.”

The pink bandannas and pink shirts is another honorable nod to Austin. According to his sister, his favorite shirt was one that read “real men wear pink.”

“After he passed away and we started coordinating with the children’s home and doing the fundraisers, we decided pink was going to be our color as another way to honor him, “ said Kirby. “Everyone has fun with it too, the guys rock the pink and everyone has a smile on their face and participates. We are truly blessed to have such wonderful support.”

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