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Toys for Tots Poker Run a family affair

July 30, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • From left, Alan Rannals, 61; Alan Rannals III, 14; and Alan Rannals II, 41, were among those who participated Saturday in the Martinsburg (W.Va.) American Legion Riders Groups annual Toys for Tots Poker Run.
By Richard F. Belisle

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The Alans were out in force on their Harleys for Saturday's Martinsburg American Legion Riders Group's annual Toys for Tots Poker Run.

Alan Rannals, Alan Rannals II and Alan Rannals III — grandfather, father and son — all are named for movie star Alan Ladd.

Alan Rannals, 61, or "Iron Butt," as he's known by fellow Harley riders, was one of the oldest riders in Saturday's fundraiser for the Christmas toy program. He is a Vietnam War veteran and a Legion member.

Rannals was born in Hollywood, Calif., the second youngest of nine children. His parents had a family tradition of naming their children after movie stars of the time.

Rannals and his wife, LaWanda, moved to Berkeley County to be closer to their grandchildren.

Their son, Alan II, 41, lives in Damascus, Md., with his family. Alan II's son, Alan III, 14, rode behind his father's motorcycle on the run.

"My father bought me my motorcycle," Alan II said. A hand-painted sign on the back fender of his Harley says just that.

Alan III said he "definitely" will get his own Harley-Davidson as soon as he's old enough.

Brian Tolstyka, director of the Martinsburg American Legion Riders Group, said last year's poker run raised $2,000 for Toys for Tots of the Eastern Panhandle. The charity provided gifts for more than 4,000 children last Christmas, he said.

Saturday's run began at the VIP Sports Bar off Veronica Street in Martinsburg. From there, the riders took a scenic ride to ROC Sports Bar on U.S. 11, their first of five stops where they picked up tickets, each signifying a playing card.

Other stops on the run were the Country Roads restaurant west of Hedgesville, W.Va., the 19th Hole Sports Bar in Spring Mills, W.Va., and the Dirty Dawgs and Q Company on Queen Street.

The ride ended at the American Legion home on Race Street, where the participants showed their hands.

Winning hands won prizes, but the biggest winners will be the kids this coming Christmas.

The local Veterans Combined Honor Guard launched the run Saturday morning with a rifle salute and the playing of taps.

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