1st Annual Joker Poker Run Raises Awareness for Iron Range Hit and Run Victim

VIRGINIA, Minn.– Up on the Iron Range, Scotty Christensen was killed in a hit and run accident in October of 2016. As the family looks for answers nearly five years later, they found a way to honor his life Sunday.

The first annual Scotty Christensen Joker Poker Run took place in Virginia on Sunday. Organized by Scotty’s mother Rita Licari.

“Growing up he was always smiley and then he was always a joker to his friends,” she said with a big smile.

The main event was a drive around the Iron Range, with stops at local establishments along the way where participants were given a small pack of poker cards. Along with passing the intersection where Scotty lost his life. Then coming back to the Virginia.

“Kind of want to do some things that are going to help bring out his memory. Keep it alive,” said Licari.

The event also included a raffle and a chili dinner, with the proceeds going to scholarships that will help get others involved in activities Scotty loved.

“He was into welding, he loved blacksmithing. He was in boy scouts, 4-H,” said Rita. “It’s a way to make something happy out of something sad and keep his memory alive and give back to others and he was that way. He was very giving so he would be happy to be a part of that.”

Scotty’s brother Josh says the two spent plenty of time together over the years. And wants to keep his memory alive.

“He was always a joker and he would always come to me if i got scared for comfort,” said Josh.

One of the stops along the way was timber’s edge on Highway 53 outside of Eveleth, where rider Travis Erickson stopped in to get his pack of cards after rain delayed the run.

“It was a little rainy to start but it looks like the sun is coming out,” said Erickson.

Erickson goes to rides around the iron range. After seeing this one posted online, he made the trip from Embarrass to show his support.

“Basically any cause. It’s not any certain thing or anyone. Just everyone has a cause and everyone needs help,” he said.

Rita says she wants the joker poker run to grow over the years and put a smile on the faces of others like Scotty did for her.

“Those passions, I kind of want to give and help others a chance to do that” she said. “They always ask, ‘have you found anything do you know anything?’ hopefully this will help to bring some closure on that part.”

Anyone with information on Scotty’s death should contact law enforcement. There is a fund to donate to the scholarships in Scotty’s honor. You can donate at any park state bank location under the All-American Reward account under Rita Licari’s name.

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