BERLIN — Three months after a tragic accident took the life of local resident Kenny Polk, his friends and family are sponsoring a charity poker tournament in remembrance and are inviting the community to celebrate his life while helping raise money for a scholarship in his name.
A 2007 Stephen Decatur High School and 2011 McDaniel College graduate, Polk was planning on continuing his education in New York with the goal of eventually becoming a doctor but was killed in a car accident last September. Friends say the charity poker tournament will serve as a sendoff for locals who could not attend Polk’s funeral in New York.
“A lot of us couldn’t make it from back home,” said friend Becca Swistak, who is spearheading the charity tournament and said that she, along with many of Polk’s other friends, felt poker was the right way to go with the event because it was one of his passions.
The tournament will be held Saturday, Dec. 17 from 5-8 p.m. at the American Legion Boggs Disharoon Post 123 in Berlin. The cost to enter will be $20 and all skill levels are encouraged to play. Proceeds will go towards funding a scholarship that will be awarded to a graduating Decatur senior who excels in athletics, academics and science, all focuses of Polk.
The community response has already been strong, said Swistak, with more than 50 people already confirmed on the event’s Facebook page and nearly as many listed as “maybe attending.”
Pam Polk, Kenny Polk’s mother, revealed that the end goal is to offer his scholarship annually.
“We’re hoping to be able to give out a $1,000 scholarship every year,” she said.
The tournament itself will feature a variety of prizes for winners, mostly in the form of gift cards.
One local organization that went above and beyond was the American Legion itself.
“The whole gaming permit was a big hitch,” she said. “They facilitated the whole thing, signing the gaming permit and donating space.”
Though the event is tomorrow, Pam Polk said that the group is still grateful for any last minute donations from businesses, especially in the form of food or drinks to cater the event. It’s her hope that this first year will be successful enough to lay the groundwork for the tournament to become a local tradition.
For more information on the event, call 410-641-0428 or 443-497-0267 or visit the In Memory of Kenny Polk Facebook page. Direct donations can be made care of The Kenneth J. Polk Memorial Fund Taylor Bank, 9923 Golf Course Road, Ocean City, Md. 21842.