A full house of fun was had for a very serious cause as GAP held its fifth charity poker tournament and fundraising event for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research at the beautiful St. Ives Country Club in Johns Creek, Georgia. Players from the 10 GAP member agencies and their carrier, broker and vendor partners contended for hours of bets, folds, raises and reveals. After the games came to an end, Dan Reljac of Travelers was the last man standing and declared the winner. Noah Daniel of Harry Daniel Insurance was the runner-up. 

The fun and friendly competition benefited the ALS Association Georgia Chapter, part of the only nationally affiliated not-for-profit health organization dedicated solely to ALS, sometimes known colloquially as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Founded in 1988, ALS Association Georgia Chapter works with people stricken by the fatal, incurable disease, and their families, to provide the highest quality of life possible. GAP covered the cost of the event, so all donations and proceeds went directly to the ALS Association Georgia Chapter. 

A special guest speaker at the event, Justin Upchurch, is battling ALS. He gave a stirring presentation detailing his experience living with the disease. Diagnosed at 39, he and his wife Suzanne have four children. With the help of his faith and the ALS Association Georgia Chapter, he is living his life to the fullest.

While the tragedy of ALS afflicts fewer than 20,000 people per year in the U.S., the disease has disproportionately affected members of the extended GAP partner agency family. That’s the main reason this is the fifth time GAP has held a charity poker tournament to raise funds. 

“Several years ago, we lost my mother-in-law to ALS at the young age of 63. We learned her disease was ‘familial’ and could be passed down through generations, so our family is focused on supporting research to find a cure for this terrible disease,” said Trae Vaughn, a partner at Brock Insurance Agency.  

“Both my mother-in-law and my sons’ head varsity football coach were diagnosed with this awful disease. Eight months later, both lost their lives to it. My family is very thankful for the support of our partners as we raise money to find a cure for ALS,” said Michael Maffett, president of Curry Maffett Insurance.

Bob Norton, CEO of The Norton Agency, said, “My father passed away with bulbar palsy, the rarest of all ALS variants. Dad lived 91 of the greatest years imaginable, but the last six months were hell as he suffered from this devastating disease. We can’t thank our friends in the industry enough for their generosity and support.” 

Bob’s words resonate with all of us at GAP. It’s wonderful to see this kind of turnout and generosity from our corner of the industry. The way people come together for this worthy cause says a lot. Strong donations poured in from all 10 of our member agencies and the $76,000 raised is something we can all be proud of. Keep in mind, however, that the battle against ALS is waged every day. Given the heartbreaking results of ALS and how it has affected so many of us at GAP, we remind ourselves to extend that generosity throughout the year whenever we can. Perhaps one day we can be a small part of the enormous win when a cure is finally found.

Formed in 1995, GAP is a select partnership of independent insurance agencies combining knowledge and resources to provide customers with the most comprehensive coverage possible to protect personal and business investments. Our GAP membership allows Bishop Durden Hale Insurance to offer superior products and services to all of our clients, along with the most competitive pricing structure available in the market. Contact us today to learn more.