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Ante up for Leukemia and Lymphoma

Poker Tournament to raise money for medical research.

POULSBO — Marathoning and playing Texas Hold ’Em poker actually have one thing in common: Poulsbo’s Ellen Dougherty.

About one year ago, Dougherty, 43, joined the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, which is hosting an upcoming marathon at Orlando, Fla.’s, Disney World, home to Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and friends.

According to the Team in Training Web site, there are about 900,000 Americans living with blood cancers. Since 1988, participants of Team in Training, which is dubbed the “world’s largest endurance sports training program” for its marathons, half marathons, triathlons and 100-mile bike rides, raised more than $900 million for the society.

To raise the $4,000 required to participate in January’s Disney World Marathon, Dougherty is hosting a Texas Hold ’Em Poker Tournament this Friday at the American Legion Hall in Poulsbo.

It’s a $25 buy-in, open to the public, and will raise money for medical research to cure leukemia and lymphoma.

The Point Casino is chipping in tournament tables for the poker-faced money wagerers.

In the winner’s pot is a trophy, T-shirt and gift certificate to a local restaurant. Second- and third-place winners also take away gift certificates. Those ante-ing up for the competition are also invited to partake in food, beverages, a silent auction and raffle.

To gear up for running the full 26.2 miles Dougherty completed a half marathon this weekend in Portland, Maine. Before she heads to Disney World Dougherty will also compete in Seattle’s half marathon at the end of November.

Five years ago she said she never would’ve believed it.

While battling postpartum depression, she joined a weight-loss program at Armstrong Fitness in Poulsbo and met owner Ann Armstrong.

“She (Armstrong) was jogging and I was huffing and puffing,” Dougherty said. “I was under a lot of stress and wasn’t taking care of myself.”

Seven months after joining the program, Dougherty was running half marathons.

“Ann said I would be running full marathons by the end of the year,” she said. Armstrong proved to be right.

Dougherty, who now works downtown Poulsbo at Kitsap Running and Walking Co., also owned by Armstrong, has run two full marathons since and a multitude of shorter-distance runs.

She said she looks forward to running with her fellow “people in purple” for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society.

“There’s all these purple shirts running and you see all these tags with names on their back of people they are running for,” she said. “Knowing all the strength people have to go through chemo and treatment for their cancer will really propel me to do this to try and help them.”

Dougherty said she hopes about 100 people sign up and attend Friday’s poker tournament.

Although she said she hasn’t played Texas Hold ‘Em poker too many times she’s used to seeing people bluff during games at family reunions.

“I learned to bluff from my brother-in-law,” she said. “He’s got the most beautiful blue eyes but I knew when he was bluffing and when to say, ‘OK I see brown.’”

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