First ATO/TAFR poker tournament raises more than $25,000 for each support group

Tom Kennedy

The first-ever Assist the Officer and TAFR Texas Hold ‘em Poker Tournament on Aug. 9 raised $25,000 for each organization, a success story that put smiles on many faces around the HPOU, which also served as a sponsor.

The tournament drew more than 150 participants who paid entry fees and competed for prizes ranging from jewelry to golf clubs and other donated items. The event was held in the Breck Porter Building and also featured other casino games such as black jack and roulette.

The night began with Assist the Officer’s Tom Hayes providing background on ATO and the Texas Association of First Responders (TAFR) and the benefits each supply to HPD officers.

“Some of you are aware of the history and function of Assist the Officer,” Hayes said. “ATO started more than 30 years ago to assist Houston police officers injured or ill by providing financial support to the officer and his or her family during trying times.

“ATO has evolved over the years to where we are today.   While we still provide financial support, we are active participants in the majority of the major fundraisers on behalf of Houston police officers.

“Recently we have developed a relationship with Chris Cardenas of Campbell Concrete and Materials. You may have seen that lovely concrete truck around town proudly displaying the ATO and Texas Association of First Responders (TAFR) logos.  Chris is the person behind tonight’s event. We thank you for your continued support.”

Hayes expressed special gratitude on behalf of ATO and TAFR to Tony Bugai of Northwest Drive Train, who contributed $10,000 to these two sponsors. He presented Bugai with a plaque “as a small token of our appreciation for your support to the cause of supporting police officers.”

Hayes added, “If you didn’t attend you missed a great night of cards and other games, along with terrific food, drink and music. There were plenty of auction items, raffle items and giveaways during the night.”

The finale table with a felt insert was provided by Northwest Drive Train Service. The last three players won some wonderful prizes. High end coolers, mugs and the winner received a specially designed bracelet commemorating the event.

“We also thank Snapper Jacker Catering, 8th Wonder Brewery and Deep Eddy Vodka for supporting the event, along with Blanca Beltran of Houston Television,” Hayes said.