‘You think it could never happen’

Poker run benefits family of 6-year-old with leukemia

From page 1B of the July 21, 2013 edition of The Pueblo Chieftain newspaper

By Anthony Settipani

Bikers may be as tough as the leathers they wear, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have hearts under all the bravado.

On Saturday, members of the Ride to Give Foundation gathered at the Pixie Inn for a poker run to benefit the family of 6-year-old Richie Bravo III, who has been diagnosed with leukemia.

The run started at
the inn in the early afternoon, and spent the next four hours riding past Pueblo taverns and through Colorado City, picking up riders along the way. Members of the group wore multicolored headbands promoting the name of the organization and its goal of “Cancer Awareness.”

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Reese Bravo, Richie’s older brother. “When you go on TV you see all the ads about kids having leukemia, and you think it’s sad but you think it could never happen to your family or your little brother. And when it does happen, it’s just really nerve-wrack- ing.”

Becky Vialpando, president of the Ride to Give Foundation, said that each of the seven years that her group has done this event, it has been a huge success.

“What we do is try to find a couple of local people who are deal- ing with cancer,” she said, explaining that her group helps with the expenses of traveling long distances to get treatment, which is often not covered by insurance.

“It’s really humbling,” said Richard Bravo Jr, Richie’s father. Bravo said that the money raised by the poker run should be a big help with his travel expenses, which involve taking Richie up to Denver and Colorado Springs on a regular basis for the specialized treatment he is receiving.

“I bought a brand new car a week before he was diagnosed,” Bravo said. This was about 10 months ago, in the fall
of 2012. “I’ve already put 40,000 miles on it, just driving it back and forth.”

Bravo said his son is in the last phase of his treatment, and if he gets past it, then he’ll only need to visit Denver once a month for treatment.

“Far cry from the two to three times a week that we’ve been doing,” he said.

Mark Hice, 54, said he has participated in most of the runs in the foundation’s history. He called it a “good cause.”

“Somebody’s got to care,” he said, “because there’s a lot of people who don’t anymore.”

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