Heartbreak for one Tignish, P.E.I., family has turned into a legacy of giving and community spirit, that has been on-going for the past quarter-century.

Ruby and Don Gaudet lost their son, Donald Gaudet Jr., to a blood disease and kidney complications nearly three decades ago.

To honour him, they started a snowmobile and ATV event in Tignish. Now, the 25th annual race is happening Sunday, with proceeds going to the Kidney Foundation of Canada, Atlantic Branch.

“After he passed away, the next year, we were very much into the snowmobiles, my husband Don and I,” said Ruby Gaudet. “We just decided one day to have snowmobile runs to help others with kidney failure.”

So every year, they have a poker run, with prizes for the winners.

Best hands win prizes

Each person registered draws five cards, and when they return from the three-hour run, the best hands win.

There are cash prizes for the top three hands, with first prize donated by the Kidney Foundation, and the rest donated by area businesses and individuals.

Over the years, the event has brought in somewhere between $40,000 and $50,000 for the foundation, but Gaudet said she never knows how much they’ll raise.

“We don’t have a goal because we go by the weather,” she said. “It’s hard to set a goal because every year it’s different.”

They’ve even had to cancel a couple of years because of a lack of snow, but that certainly won’t be a problem this time.

Son remembered

After all the years, Ruby Gaudet said her son is still very much on the minds of her family and the volunteers and participants.

“There’s not too many times we don’t think of him for sure,” she said. “On that day, we hope that he helps everybody get home safe and everything. We hope he’s a little angel up there.”

There’s a community potluck after the event as well, and people don’t even have to go on the run if they don’t feel like it.

You can simply pay to register, get a poker hand, be eligible for the prizes, and come to the dinner afterwards.

To participate, registration is from noon to 1 p.m. at the Tignish Legion, with the poker run happening from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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