In 2004, Palmetto Middle School student Michael Grey started a poker tournament to raise money for wheelchair repairs. When he graduated high school in 2009, Morrison brothers Brian, 15, and Jay, 13, and Jared Heller, 16, took over. This year marks the 10th year for the CCDH poker tournament, which has grown to well over 100 participants annually.
On Feb. 2, come join this worthy local charity event. Congregation Bet Shira (Southwest 120th Street and 77th Avenue) hosts the three-hour Texas Hold’em Tournament beginning at 12:30 p.m. Entry costs $20 (though many contribute more) to try your luck, but more importantly to support the boys in their quest to help wheelchair- bound individuals. All players and volunteers receive four hours of community service credit.
During the event, there will be free food and drink, raffles and lots of good conversation. Volunteers of all ages make sure this is an event everyone can enjoy. Through the years, Martin Berger has provided the poker chips, Congregation Bet Shira donated the venue and the Morrison, Heller and Gray families volunteered food, drink, time and effort to making this a special day. Brian and Jay Morrison both agreed.
“The best part of the tournament is seeing everyone get together, have a good time, raise money and see their hard work pay off for those less fortunate.”
“A successful turnout always make me happy,” said Jared Heller. “I know it’s for a great cause.”
The boys were recently recognized at CCDH’s Breakfast Of Champions event, highlighting 20 people with developmental disabilities who have achieved significant milestones in their lives. They presented Brian, Jay and Jared with the Impacting Lives Award. Jared called the experience, “humbling to receive recognition and nice to see how the poker tournament impacted lives.”
“I was humbled by the appreciation,” Brian added. “It’s so great to see the good we can do.”
Jay echoed their words and vowed: “We said we’d keep it going for Michael and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
Since 1975, CCDH <www.CCDH.com> has been Miami-Dade County’s leading agency to plan, provide, coordinate and arrange services for individuals with disabilities and their families. Last year more than $5,000 was raised. With your help, more will be donated this year.
For more information or to volunteer, call the Morrisons at 305-613-2069 or Heller at 305-484-8831. You can also email pokertournament4charity@ gmail.com.
MIAMI JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL
Celebrating its 17th anniversary, the Miami Jewish Film Festival (MJFF) runs Jan. 23 Feb. 3. It’s considered the preeminent film festival for showcasing Jewish cinema in Florida.
A gathering of more than 11,000 local and international audience members, this worldwide convening of film aficionados brings the finest in film right to South Florida. During the week, movies will be screened at O Cinema Miami Shores, Miami Beach Cinematheque, Regal Cinemas South Beach, Frank Theatres Intracoastal and the Bill Cosford Cinema at UM.
I was sent a screener of “Our Big Time”, an Austria-Germany-Romania made film with English sub-titles. The film explores how the Nazi movement affected children inside Germany during World War II. At first, I was expecting a retread of countless other films, but was soon pleasantly surprised to see a fresh story and a well-written, acted and directed movie about two close friends who go from innocent youth to having to deal with some pretty mature issues in a short amount of time.
Alex and Ferry are choirboys whose families endure near daily air raids in Germany. When Ferry’s mother signs him up for the children’s evacuation program (basically a military camp), Alex can’t stand the thought of being separated. Unbeknown to even his parents, the boys secretly get Alex into the evacuation program.
And timing turns out to be perfect, as the Nazis discover Alex has Jewish heritage and confront his parents asking to take Alex in exchange for their freedom. By then, Alex has already left for the camp.
At camp, their singing helps them avoid military training. Instead, they are selected to join the prestigious camp choir. The rest of the film shows the compassion of a select few and the sheer luck that allows Alex to survive.
Beyond “Our Big Time”, the MJFF will show 24 full-length films and six shorts. Many are premieres of some sort, including the world premiere of “Felix Tikotin: A Life Devoted to Japanese Art”. You can review schedules and events at http://miamijewishfilmfestival. net.
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Hal Feldman (MiamiHal) is a Realtor with RE/MAX Advance Realty. Contact him with your story ideas or real estate questions at www.MiamiHal.com.