On March 11, the Santa Barbara City Firefighters Association (SBCFFA) held its eighth annual Mike Moses Memorial Texas Hold’em Benefit Poker Tournament at the scenic Carriage and Western Art Museum. A record 171 players and many other non-playing guests turned out for this sold-out event, which raised an estimated $18,000 for those impacted by the 1/9 Debris Flow.
Yes, these are the same firefighters who risked their lives for the community in the Thomas Fire, 1/9 Debris Flow, and countless other fires. They just keep on giving. Every year, SBCFFA holds events to raise funds for worthy causes. Proceeds from this event will be given to nonprofits serving those impacted by the 1/9 Debris Flow. Event Committee Member and Fire Engineer Jeremy Denton shared that they wanted to raise funds because this is their community. They have colleagues and friends whose homes were damaged or destroyed and friends who died. “We are here during the emergencies, but we also want to be here during the recovery.”
The event started at high noon with a tri-tip and chicken barbecue and all the fixings. To maximize the fundraising, firefighters and fire department office workers prepared and served all the tasty food, and thanks to Rincon Brewery, free beer flowed. Adding to the festivities, the Bryan Titus Trio played its fun postmodern-barn-dance music.
After lunch, folks adjourned inside for poker. Along with area businesses, Santa Barbara County Fire, Montecito Fire, Santa Maria Fire, and the Santa Barbara Police Officers’ Association bought tables, and there were Ventura County and Los Angeles County firefighters playing as well. Professional dealers managed the 19 tournament tables and the playing and good times went on all afternoon. Renny Stokes (retired, Los Angeles County Fire) won the grand prize of a Samsung big-screen TV.
The event was started to raise funds for Captain Mike Moses, a Santa Barbara City Firefighter diagnosed with cancer. Another year, funds went to Santa Barbara City Fire Engineer Kevin Corbett, also diagnosed with cancer, who has since made a full recovery. In other years, the proceeds have been donated to numerous area nonprofits, and over the years the event has raised about $220,000.
Each year, the SBCFFA also holds a surf contest and a golf tournament to raise funds for nonprofits. The surf contest will be held at Leadbetter Point on March 23 and the golf tournament will be at Glen Annie Golf Club on September 7. All funds raised by the SBCFFA are routed through its 501(c)(3) Charity Fund, which, since its inception in 2004, has raised about $450,000.
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By Gail Arnold