Memorial Poker Run raises funds for domestic violence program

By Melissa Burnor

Domestic violence is something that affects many people each year. Bill and Lisa Gritzmaker certainly had the effects hit very close to home last year. Just over a year ago, their daughter-in-law also named Lisa Gritzmaker and their unborn granddaughter, Abigail, were murdered along with the younger Lisa Gritzmaker’s sister, Amy Merrill, by Merrill’s estranged boyfriend.

Gritzmaker, along with his son, Jake who was married to the younger Lisa, belong to the 180th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air national Guard. The group rallied around the family in the days and weeks that followed  the death of Lisa, Abigail and her sister Amy Merrill.

But their deaths would not be the only domestic violence-related deaths that would affect the unit.
Bill Gritzmaker also had had a coworker at the 180th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard who was murdered by her husband in their on-base housing at Fort Knox, Ky., earlier this year. Her husband also took his own life. Bill said another very close family member of his was also a previous victim of domestic violence.
Bill and his wife Lisa began thinking about the lack of awareness of domestic in the public and the need for support groups that help people who find themselves in situations like that.
So, after much conversation with each other, friends and family , “buddies at work” Bill said he idea of the Inaugural All-Wheel Poker Run In Loving Memory of Amy Merrill, Lisa Gritzmaker and Abigail Gritzmaker began to take shape. All proceeds to the benefit will go to the Catherine Cobb Domestic Violence Center in Adrian.
Poker runs are usually an activity that motorcycle enthusiasts participate in, but the Gritzmakers wanted anyone who wanted to support their cause to take part if they choose. So while they anticipate a lot of motorcycle riders anyone whether they have a car, truck or a bike, can participate, Lisa said. 
Participants can play as many hands as they want,”  Bill said. The cost is $20 per hand.
Registration also includes a T-shirt and wrist band. Registration will take place from 9-11:30 a.m. Saturday behind Blissfield Coney Island. It will be a rain or shine event. For more information about the event email
For the complete story, please see the July 17, 2013, edition of The Advance. Copyright 2013, River Raisin Publications, Inc.