United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County (UBGC) turned in a good hand from its recent Poker Run Fundraiser, netting $60,000. The proceeds will sponsor 50 youth throughout the county for a full year, covering membership fees, mentoring, sports clinics, academic support, and hot meals.

“We were uncertain of what COVID restrictions would be for the fall and wanted to play it safe by having an outdoor controlled event,” said Michael Baker, United Boys & Girls Clubs CEO. “The Rally 4 Kids Gala is a huge event, and we weren’t sure we would be able to have a 300-person dinner.

“We decided to put on a poker run that ended at Camp Whittier, where family and friends could join and experience camp. Many of our donors haven’t been to camp with the new ropes course and the new cabins, so this was the perfect opportunity.”

Poker Run participants enjoyed a scenic two-hour drive through the back roads of Santa Barbara with views of Stearn’s Wharf, La Cumbre Peak, and the Santa Ynez Mountain Range.

Drivers had five checkpoints to stop at along the route where they selected a playing card in hopes of having the best hand in five-card poker.

The prize for the winning hand was a weekend getaway package in Solvang, including dinner, wine and more, donated by Tracy Beard, Solvang Chamber of Commerce CEO, and her husband David Beard, a UBGC Board member.

Following the morning drive, Camp Whittier was open for a barbecue, zip line, archery, and pool time.

“It was incredible to see and hear the excitement of people climbing the 40-foot tower, then zip line through the trees,” said Baker. “Thank you to all the checkpoint card dealers, the team at Camp Whittier who made an adult camp possible, and the entire United Boys & Girls Team, whose tireless efforts result in transformational experiences for the club kids every single day.

“I’d also like to thank all of the participants who generously ponied up for the $1,000 buy-in and the generous donations from the event sponsors Ray Link and Jill Taylor, Toyota of Santa Barbara, Will Hahn Productions, Jeff Clark from Montecito 969 Customs, Milpas Motors, Mission Linens, Demboski & Chapman Financial and Insurance Solutions,” he said.

“And a huge thank-you to Michael and Misty Hammer, and the Armand Hammer Foundation as the presenting title sponsor, who year after year have stepped up to the plate big time to ensure that the children in our community get the very, very best,” added event chair John Demboski.

“This month has been filled with so much excitement. The same week of the Poker Run, 60 members got to experience Camp Whittier, some for the first time staying away from home,” said Laurie Leis, UBGC executive vice president of advancement.

“Our members got to enjoy three nights and four days at camp. They enjoyed hiking, swimming, team building, zip lining, and making new friends,” Leis said. “We are so thankful to all our donors who helped get camp back open.”

To learn more on how to donate or volunteer, visit www.unitedbg.org or call 805-681-1315.