Freedom Cruisers Riding Club Chapter 65 raises $2,500 to help Imlay girl


IMLAY CITY — Life just got a bit brighter for one little girl battling a big disease.

Karina Peterson, 7, was diagnosed with Optic Pathway Glioma, a brain tumor that threatens to rob her of eyesight.

For more than a year, the Weston Elementary School student and her family have been struggling to make ends meet as they travel to Detroit for treatments and doctors appointments, as well as mentally and emotionally as Karina fights for her life.

That struggle was made easier thanks to the generous members of the Freedom Cruisers Riding Club Chapter 65, who stepped up when they learned of Karina’s plight.

Karina Peterson enjoys the ride during the August 19 ‘Poker Run for Karina’s Eyesight’ hosted by the Freedom Cruisers Riding Club Chapter 65.

Over the past eight months or so, Chapter President Ken Burk and members of the club planned and orchestrated a ‘Poker Run for Karina’s Eyesight,’ which was met with great success on August 19.

Burk says 65 riders took part in the ride, with a total of 80 people participating in the fundraiser. They raised $2,500 to help Karina and her family as she continues to battle her disease.

“It worked out good,” Burk says. “We couldn’t have done much better. There are lots of rides and charity events going on, so we were pleased to have such a great turnout for ours.”

The Poker Run began at Ray C’s in Lapeer, and made stops in Frankenmuth, Caldwell, and Kingswood before rolling into Imlay City at the conclusion.

Participants enjoyed a buffet dinner at Stevo’s Bar & Grill Banquet Facility, along with live entertainment by the band ‘Torch.’

“Stevo’s did a fantastic job with the dinner,” Burk says.

A silent auction featuring goods and services donated by local businesses was part of the event, as were numerous raffles for gift baskets and more. A special raffle for ZZ Top and Carrie Underwood concert tickets also helped raise funds for Karina.

“Many local businesses came forward with donations to help with the ride, and we had lots of gifts to give away,” Burk says. “People were very generous, and we’re grateful for all they did.”

Karina enjoyed the evening as well, handing out gift baskets to the winners and helping with the event.

“She was just ecstatic, and her parents were very happy and could not thank us enough,” Burk says. “There were a lot of tears and a lot of smiles.”

The smiles didn’t stop there, either. This past Sunday, FCRC members took part in a ‘Romper Room ride,’ where they escorted Karina and two other youths they’ve helped in the past to get ice cream.

The youngsters will also be presented with kid-sized vests and a ‘FCRC junior’ patch.

“We’re a family organization that puts family first and likes to give back to the community,” Burk says.

“We’re already thinking about what we’ll do next year.”

Karina is the daughter of Julie Watson and Greg Peterson of Imlay City.