Coach Kill Cancer Poker Run Honors Cancer Victim


By Evie Allen

DU QUOIN -- The Coach Kill Cancer Fund Poker Run was back Saturday after a two-year break.

This year, the charity had a new sponsor. The ride was in memory of one of their own employees.

It's music to a bike-lovers ears. In a sea of loud pipes and chrome, hundreds gathered at the Du Quoin fair grounds for the return of the Coach Kill Cancer Fund Poker Run.

Nearly 500 people burned up the roadways and drew cards at four different locations across southern Illinois.

"People that ride cycles and do poker runs, they're probably the most giving people in our country," said co-founder Jerry Kill.

Under the theme, Ride for the Fund, the organization teamed up with Huck's. The former SIU coach says it's a partnership with special significance.

Huck's district manager, Andrew McKinney, lost his battle with cancer last year.

"There's no better way to honor him than in doing something like this," said his father Mark McKinney.

The charity helps support cancer patients with financial struggles. Mark is Huck's senior vice president of operations, and says he knows first hand what families go through.

" We lived it for three years," said McKinney. "Andrew was so passionate about helping others. He's in the middle of this, there's no doubt about that in my mind."

The organization was founded back in 2006 with SIH Vice President for Community Affairs, Woody Thorne.

He says the run is a good way to remember all who battle and have battled the deadly disease. It's also a reminder of the importance of supporting your community.

"This is a great effort by southern Illinoisans to come together to help southern Illinoisans who really are already facing their battle with cancer," said Thorne. 

Andrew McKinney would have turned 25 on Saturday. Founders with the group are planning to keep Huck's as their annual sponsor.

The Coach Kill Cancer Fund has helped over 1,000 patients by providing over $500,000 in assistance.

For more information on the charity click here.

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