Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Tournament

Freedom Courtyard ProjectPoker players are so well renowned for their generosity – particularly pros such as three-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) winner Barry Greenstein – that the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) are hoping that they can help raise enough cash for the Freedom Courtyard project in California’s Rancho Cucamonga to break ground on Veterans Day this year.

In fact, such is Chicago native Barry Greenstein’s generosity in donating all his profits from poker tournament winnings to charities – principally Virginia-based Children, Incorporated – that he has earned the nickname of ‘The Robin Hood of Poker’ for his $1.5 million-plus donations to the organisation.

Certainly, organisers for the Congressionally-chartered war veterans organisation in the USA will be keeping their fingers crossed that many kind-hearted local – as well as distant – poker players sign up to their Texas Hold’em event that kicks off on Saturday in San Bernardino County.

It is expected that Freedom Courtyard – which is a Central Park project set up to honour military personnel – will cost somewhere between $125,000 and $150,000 to create, with the fundraising committee having already raised over $90,000  towards its construction and hoped-for start date of November 11.

Senior fundraiser Diana Lee told the Contra Costa Times that “we’re so close now, we could be ready on Veterans Day to actually start the project”.

The Freedom Courtyard has been well supported by the local VFW, with a car show earning almost $5,000 last month, while an earlier poker event raised about $4,800.

Jim Fettig – the poker tournament organiser – said the previous event attracted 55 competitors, but is hoping that “more players” will sign up this time as “the more we get, the more proceeds we’ll have to donate to Freedom Courtyard”.

When the cash target is reached, the courtyard will be built in two elements, with the initial phase – which is expected to take about four months to complete – featuring a centre statue, memory box, flags, and a flag retirement urn, while the second segment will include a timeline recounting the USA’s past conflicts.

Meanwhile, the ongoing fundraising efforts include the sale of commemorative bricks – priced between $150 and $275 – that will ultimately line the courtyard’s entrance.