A rainbow symbolizes hope, beauty emerging after a storm, and the promise of better things to come. As we prepared for our 5th annual Emily’s Hope Poker Run, a fundraising event that attracts hundreds of bikers each year, I anxiously hoped for favorable weather. The success of the event relies on good weather conditions, unlike two years ago when we faced dreadful storms and tornadoes. While some dedicated individuals braved the weather and we relocated the event indoors, I returned home to a flooded basement, spending the entire night cleaning up water, feeling as though no good deed goes unpunished.
This year, the forecast fluctuated constantly in the days leading up to the poker run. At one point, rain seemed inevitable, and my spirits sank. The event required extensive planning and hard work from numerous individuals. However, as the day drew nearer, it appeared that we might have a brief period of pleasant weather for the event. My meteorologist friend, a former colleague from my days in TV news, provided me with detailed updates on what to expect: a few showers in the morning, clearing up before the poker run began, with another chance of rain after it concluded around 7 p.m. Fortunately, the forecast held true, and it turned out to be a beautiful day with comfortable humidity levels and a scattering of fluffy clouds in the sky—ideal conditions for a 120-mile motorcycle ride.
Ray Mahle, who has participated all 5 years had the winning hand and gave a portion back.
In fact, the evening turned out to be just as magnificent as everyone gathered at a local bar and grill for the end of the event, where we awarded prizes for the best poker hands. Remarkably, the biker with the winning hand even donated a portion of his winnings back to the non-profit organization.
Our volunteers efficiently dismantled all the arrangements we had set up, and sometime later, as I lingered in the establishment, engaging in conversations with a few friends who had shown up towards the end, a storm suddenly swept through. Although brief, it left us with a lasting impression as we were beckoned outside to witness a spectacular rainbow.
A friend managed to capture a photo that encapsulated the joy I felt that day. Many of the participants had been with us since the very beginning, taking part in the event for all five years. Among them were individuals who had been affected by addiction or loss, or both. I had the pleasure of meeting a recently sober young couple who simply wanted to express their support.
It dawned on me that Emily’s Hope epitomizes beauty arising from adversity. From the ashes of loss, an idea was born to instill hope in people for a brighter future, to remind everyone of their inherent worth, regardless of the illness they may be grappling with—whether it be the brain disorder known as substance use disorder or any other affliction. A fervent desire burns within me to equip every child with the knowledge necessary to avoid addiction through our Emily’s Hope Prevention Curriculum. As Poet Emily Dickenson reminds us, In the depths of my pain, hope was a thing with feathers that perched in my soul and never left at all. The rainbow served as a poignant reminder of the promise of hope for all of us.
My acronym for H.O.P.E.:
Help: The hand of another can lift us up in hope.
Optimism: Maintaining a positive outlook brings hope.
Purpose: Finding purpose gives us a reason to hope.
Endurance: Through endurance, hope carries us forward.
Faith, Hope & Courage,