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Bicycle Charity Poker Tournament Honors Fallen Heroes

Third-Annual Tournament to Raise Money for Victims' Families

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The Bicycle Casino will host the Fallen Heroes charity tournament.Growing up in a community plagued by drugs and gang violence, Juan Abel Escalante had managed to lead the straight life. With a strict and close-knit Catholic family supporting him, he avoided the troubles and temptations that often tear down male youth in urban environments. He received an education and decided to go into law enforcement to serve his community.

By the time he was 27, he was a Los Angeles County sheriff. But on the morning of Aug. 9 of last year, while he was entering his car to go to work, he was executed by gang members. His wife and three small children were left to carry on without him.

Escalante’s family is one of the many that has been assisted by the Fallen Heroes Fund. Fallen Heroes is a non-profit charity organization that provides financial support to the families of law enforcement and firefighters who die while assisting the citizens of Los Angeles County.

Its primary fundraiser is its annual poker tournament, the Memorial Poker Classic, which will be hosted at the Bicycle Casino on Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. Check-in and dinner start at 2:30 p.m.

Craig McClelland and Scott Diamond, two deputies with more than 20 years of experience, started the charity in 2007.

“We’ve just seen a lot of things happen in our careers,” said McClelland. “It’s just so hard to see the families affected by these tragedies. We decided we should do something about it.”

The Memorial Poker Classic does not compensate any of its staff, meaning every single dollar after expenses goes straight to the families of the deceased. The first two poker tournaments have raised a combined total of $30,000 for the victims’ families.

The tournament is $120-to-enter, with $100 rebuys through the first three levels. Last year, 122 people participated.

Poker pro Mark Seif and World Series of Poker finalist Kelly Kim are both expected to attend, provided they are not still playing in the L.A. Poker Classic main event, which starts Feb. 21 at nearby Commerce Casino.

Among the prizes to be distributed at the tournament include a seven-day Mexican Riviera cruise for two, compliments of Card Player Cruises, multiple big-screen TVs, a World Poker Tour prize package, and a Full Tilt poker table and chips.

For more information about the event, visit fallenheroesla.org or e-mail fallenheroesfund@yahoo.com.