Some families bond over board games or movies. Jimmy Clark's family bonds over Texas Hold 'em.
Clark learned to play the poker game before he was in middle school, and it's one of the things that brought him cheer during months of cancer treatment at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center five years ago.
Now a cancer survivor and a junior at Penn State's University Park Campus, Clark has seen his experience with cancer -- and poker -- come full circle.
Clark and his family, who live in Red Lion, wanted to give back to the Four Diamonds Fund, an organization that helps families whose children are going through cancer treatments at Penn State Hershey's medical campus. Clark said his family started a poker tournament four years ago as a fundraiser for the organization.
Clark's family has now teamed up with the Penn State York campus to continue the poker tournament, which will be held Saturday at the Springettsbury Township Fire Co. Doors will open at noon, with games beginning at 1 p.m.
The first-place winner of the tournament will be able to choose from prizes including a 50-inch television, an iPad Mini or an iPad Nano.
Clark said he doesn't have a specific goal for the tournament, but the past three events combined have raised more than $30,000. Tickets are $30 in advance and $40 at the door.
Clark said any money the tournament can raise is more than the fund had before, which serves as his motivation.
Treatment: Clark was admitted to Penn State Hershey in December 2008 and began treatments immediately to battle osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer in his right leg.
He remembers that, even at 15 when he was diagnosed, he wondered how much stress the cost of cancer treatments would be. He was relieved when his family was told the Four Diamonds Fund would help to cover the costs of his treatment.
"It shifted from having to worry about money to worrying about being healthy," Clark said.
Last spring, Clark represented Penn State York at
THON, an annual two-day dance marathon at the university's main campus. THON raises money to end pediatric cancer and donates the money to the Four Diamonds Fund.
Last year, the university broke its previous records by raising $12.3 million. Penn State York's campus broke its record, too, by donating $22,000 to the cause. Clark's poker proceeds were included in that amount.
Even though Clark is now at University Park, the poker proceeds will continue to be donated from the York campus. Clark said he also hopes to start another tournament next year, perhaps in State College.
"Every dollar helps in ways people can't imagine," Clark said.
For tickets or more information about the poker tournament, call Maureen Beaver at (717) 515-3472 or Wanita Clark at (717) 887-3126.
--Reach Nikelle Snader at email@example.com.