Poker run goes all in to raise $10,000

A recreational boating event has raised a large sum of money to aid in the further development of a local sea park in Exuma.

The Bahamas Poker Run, an annual event where boaters engage in water activities throughout the northern Exuma Cays, has donated $10,000 to the Bahamas National Trust in support of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (ECLSP).

The BNT was the sole charity recipient of the proceeds, and a cheque was presented to Janet Johnson, president of the BNT, and Eric Carey, BNT's executive director.

In a press release, BPR's co-founders Jordan Lampkin and Shane Freedman revealed they were "elated at the turn out and support" for the event, asserting the third edition was a "huge success".

BPR 2018 took place on May 12 and included more than 400 participants and 60 boats, "riding in caravan" between the northern Exuma cays and New Providence.

Warderick Wells, where the ECLSP headquarters and visitors centre are located, was the first stop of the poker run. This allowed a number of Bahamians to visit their national park for the first time.

Shane Freedman, co-founder of BPR, said: "Our charitable donation to the BNT is an important part of this event. We are proud to do our small part towards the awareness, education, protection, and conservation of these most beautiful Bahamian parks."

The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is 176-square miles and world renowned for its "pristine beauty, outstanding anchorages, and breathtaking marine environment."

According to the press release, the park was the first protected area of its kind globally, created in 1959 by the same legislation that established the BNT.

In response to BPR'S generosity, Mr Carey said: "BNT deeply appreciates the much-needed contribution that the Bahamas Poker Run provides to support the Exuma Park, but we also are grateful that the event provides an opportunity for so many Bahamians to get to come and visit, and enjoy this incredible national park."

Mr Carey added it costs nearly $500,000 to operate a park of such magnitude, also asserting that it cannot be done without corporate support.

The "seafaring event" has amassed support from local partners who recognise the immense value of the local marine economy.

The event's organisers were "thrilled" with this year's success, and reported that they look forward to future BPR events to come.