By David Todd
The Salty Dawgs Motorcycle Riding Club of Virginia rumbled into Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP), June 29, to present a check in the amount of $10,527 to the Fisher House.
Cmdr. David C. Collins, director for administration, NMCP, and Loretta Loveless, manager, Fisher House in Portsmouth, were in attendance to accept the check. The money was generated from the group’s annual Poker Run, May 5, and this is the sixth year the group has donated to the Fisher House.
“The impact of $10,000 on the Fisher House and the folks that stay here is unbelievable,” said Collins. “This is something that we can’t live without … you guys and your support are unbelievable. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and to all of them, thank you – well done!”
Loveless reiterated the sentiment.
“They not only donate, they come for Thanksgiving and Christmas [too]. They came and cooked for the families … they don’t know how to do anything small,” she said with a smile.
To date, this year’s Poker Run was the most successful, and they are already planning to top it next year.
“This is actually the biggest and best out of the one’s that we’ve been doing,” said Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Patrick A. Holden (a.k.a. Gearhead), Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 120 and Salty Dawgs president. He said that weather, location and support/sponsorship all played into this year’s success. “… We hope to do better every year.”
The Poker Run included door prizes, an auction, 50/50 drawing, cornhole tournament, and a bike and car show. Paper products, including toilette paper, paper towels, paper plates and more were also collected.
“We give everything we can,” said Deborah Fryery-Lyytinen, a Salty Dawgs member. “If everybody else could understand that it doesn’t take much … we gather up paper products, because they have to budget for that. This is a ‘home away from home.’
What they don’t have to foot the bill for is what we are trying to do … so that they don’t have so many issues to deal with.”
The Fisher House in Portsmouth opened in June of 1995 and was the first in Virginia. It has provided temporary lodging to families and guests while their loved ones were hospitalized. The Fisher House is a home away from home for families of patients receiving medical care at the hospital. There are 57 Fisher Houses worldwide, located on 23 military installations and 20 VA medical centers.
Each house is designed to provide eight to 21 suites. All are professionally furnished and decorated in the tone and style of the local region. The houses can accommodate 16 to 42 family members and they feature a common kitchen, laundry facilities, spacious dining room and an inviting living room with library and toys for children.