dakota ragerMUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (7/22/17) — Like an early frost, the life of a young man loved by so many ended by his own hand in November 2015. Those closest to the 24-year-old knew him as someone that tried to make everyone happy but who could no longer find it for himself.

Family and close friends of the late Dakota “Lil” Rager will hold the Second Annual Memorial Poker Run in honor of his memory July 29. Proceeds from the event will go to the Muhlenberg Family Resource Centers for children’s Christmas gifts and needs.

Paul and Donna Rager, Dakota’s parents, are leading the event for the second year in keeping their son’s love of children and his charitable nature living on, they said. The first event raised $4,265, which was donated to Muhlenberg County School’s elementary schools resource centers. They also raised $1,700 in a softball tournament last year that went to Norton Children’s Hospital (formerly known as Kosair).

Last year, 112 motorcycles took off from Gray’s Front Porch Grill in Bremen with drivers and passengers headed on their rounds to gather cards for their poker hands. This year, the riders will again meet at the Front Porch Grill at 4885 Kentucky 81, Bremen, with kickstands up at 11 a.m. The run ends back at the same point after a 75-100 mile trip. Sign-ups begin at 9 a.m.

For those that don’t ride, there will be plenty more to do at the restaurant and parking lot. There will be a 50/50 auction, silent auction, baked goods for sale, yard sale items, a cornhole tournament at 4 p.m., bike games and karoke.

Anyone can donate items for sale including baked goods or make a monetary donation to: Lil’ Rager’s Fund. Lil’ Rager was Dakota’s nickname.

In 2015, Dakota’s funeral procession included a miles-long train of bikers and his casket was carried in his own Dodge First Gen truck. In a letter left to his family, Dakota asked for his last ride to be in his first ride — the First Gen.

A coal miner, who had worked at Elk Creek, KenAmerican and Amstrong mines, his family said he loved vehicles and motorcycles. He owned two motorcycles, two mini rockets and four trucks.

“He would buy a bike or truck for way more than it was worth just to help someone,” said Paul Rager. “He would say, ‘I know that’s too much to pay for it but they needed the money.’”

Donna Rager said her son loved to “cut up and was always smiling,” and that the room came alive when he walked in.

“He was good natured and good hearted,” said Donna Rager.

The Ragers and James and Sherry Gray from Gray’s Front Porch Grill said they are looking for this year’s fundraiser to be bigger than before. Planning started earlier in the year and the word has gotten around more.

Organizers want bikers from all over western Kentucky to feel welcome to participate. Anyone can go on the ride in any street legal vehicle including cars and participate in the poker game.

Rita Dukes Smith
SurfKY News Director

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