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Annual event donates thousands of dollars to veteran causes


The big day is nearing for tickets to go on sale for the annual Fern 45, an off-road poker run that raises money for those who have given their time or sacrificed their lives serving their country in the armed forces.

Not only are tickets going on sale (www.thefern45.com), but sponsorships are also available for the November 2-4 event held south of Fernley High School at the 95 Motorsports Complex.

Shari Walsh and Kelsey Kibbee have been pitching the importance of helping veterans. Walsh, the organization’s treasurer, said the 2022 Fern 46 was the biggest year to date as more than 550 vehicles entered. She said drivers came from as far away as Illinois or over the Sierra Nevada from California.

“It’s nice to see all of our off-road people and their support of all of our veterans,” said Walsh, whose husband Kelly founded the Fern 45 and serves as president   

Walsh added the Fern 45 is becoming so big that people are bringing their campers for the weekend. She said many people are coming from the Sacramento area, and about 48% of the participants live in Northern Nevada.

“We had 340 campers last year, and we had plenty of room,” she pointed out.

This year’s three-day Fern 45 begins with camping, a cornhole tournament and local vendors setting up booths to sell their products. She said the poker run is conducted on the third day.

In addition to inviting racers and their families to participate, both Walsh and Kibbee, the organization’s secretary and graphic/design artist, have been discussing with the groups the various sponsorship levels for the Fern 45, ranging from General Sponsor at $500 to Title Sponsor for $5,000.

Walsh said one of the veterans’ organizations receiving a portion of the proceeds from the poker run is the Nevada Veterans Coalition in Fernley. The NVC provides the honor guard for many military funerals and also organizes and conducts Memorial Day observances and Wreaths Across America in December.

At the end of 2022, the Fern 45 donated $15,000 each to the Nevada State Veterans Home in Sparks and the NVC. Another $5,000 was presented to the Veterans Guest House in Reno.

After the first running of the Fern 45 in 2015, Walsh said the event generated $1,200 and a new laptop computer for the NVC.

“We’re taking applications for grants,” she said.

Both Walsh and Kibbe, who are on the Fern 45 board or “crew,” said the first off-road event drew about 130 people including members from the coalition. That number was almost four times greater for the 2022 Fern 45. They said the support has been overwhelming, and each year they are grateful for the increased support and participation.

Overall, they said the Fern 45, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has donated more than $100,000.

For additional information or to become a sponsor, go to www.fern45.comor email [email protected].

Steve Ranson
Steve Ranson
Steve Ranson is Editor Emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News.