Brad Richards' Poker Stars 2011 was held Thursday inside the Fair Isle Ford dealership in Charlottetown. Attending were, from left, Peter MacDonald, owner of Fair Isle Ford, Barb Dunphy-Gotell, executive director of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation, New York Rangers hockey star Brad Richards and Sheldon O'Meara formerly of Alberton and now of Charlottetown. The event raised funds for the QEH pediatric unit where O'Meara has spent much of his life.
NHL all-star Brad Richards was in Charlottetown Thursday to play a different game.
He hosted a charity poker event held inside the Fair Isle Ford-Lincoln car dealership on St. Peters Road. The money raised goes to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation for the paediatrics department by way of the Brad Richards Foundation.
Richards said Thursday that he is not a big-league poker player.
"We used to play six or seven years ago a little bit (with) the team, for fun to pass time on the plane, but nothing serious.
"I know a lot of people like to play it so instead of having the (fundraising) golf tournament, this is an event that everyone can enjoy," said Richards. "Everyone is having fun, good times."
The fundraiser include a Texas Hold 'Em tournament, silent and live auctions, a buffet dinner and beverages .
Richards, from Murray Harbour, has played 11 seasons in the NHL. He won the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004 along with the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player that same season.
He recently signed a free agent contract with the New York Rangers and before that led the Dallas Stars in scoring.
Sheldon O'Meara was attending Thursday's poker event, with a sizeable stack of poker chips in front of him and a big smile. He is originally from Alberton, now living in Charlottetown.
At the age of 12 O'Meara was told he had cystic fibrosis. For the past 26 years he has been going to the paediatric unit of the QEH for intravenous drug therapies and physiotherapy.
"Ninety percent of the time I get to go to Unit 5 (paediatrics) where they saw me as a kid, grow up, become an adult but they still take me. It's like a second home sometimes but they know me and I have known them forever."
O'Meara has seen the benefits of fundraising.
"The equipment they get is always upgrading. There is always new stuff coming in because of charities like this," he said during a break in the action.
Red Shores donated tables and staff to run the game, while Peake's Quay was on hand to provide food and drink.
Richards hosted a similar event in Dallas last November but declined to say if this will become an annual event on P.E.I.
"We are not making any commitments to anything further," he said Thursday. "My commitment is to keep doing things. We started last year with the QEH Foundation so that's my commitment.
"These things will pop up from time to time if my schedule in the off-season allows it. This summer was a little busy but we found a window were we could come up and do this and see how it works out. So far we think it's great so we'll see where it goes."