Pardeeville teens remembered in poker run

October 2, 2018
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PARDEEVILLE – On Saturday, Pardeeville honors friends and neighbors who died too soon but keep making the world a better place.

The Roar 2 Remember Poker Run Memorial Ride raises money for college scholarships as a tribute to Christian Muniz and Cori McBride and honors their giving spirits before their lives were cut short as teenagers, the families of both explained.

They were organ donors, too, helping others even in death.

McBride died July 15, 2017, at the age of 15 from injuries suffered in an ATV accident, and Muniz died unexpectedly at the age of 16 on May 22, 2018.

They had lived a block apart.

“When they were little, they were inseparable,” said Amanda Dicken, McBride’s older sister. Muniz and McBride were especially close during their elementary and middle school years in Pardeeville.

“They did everything together,” Dicken said.

“Cori was like a little mother hen,” remembered Kitzi Muniz, Christian’s mother. “Christian had autism, and Cori always wanted to help him and take care of him.”

Their organs have helped several people live longer and better lives, including Rich Heath, 51, of Spring Green. Heath — a father to four daughters — received McBride’s heart shortly after her after death in 2017 and he is “now back to 100 percent health,” Dicken reported.

Proceeds from Saturday’s poker run will go to graduating seniors from Pardeeville and Portage — Portage included because Christian had attended Portage High School after his schooling in Pardeeville, Muniz explained. Participants in search of the best poker hands drive to five locations in Pardeeville and Portage to collect stamps they’ll eventually exchange for five cards.

The event costs $20 per rider and $15 per vehicle passenger and pays out 50 percent to first, second and third place.

Registration occurs at 10:30 a.m. at Olde Chicago Bar in Pardeeville. From there, participants may drive in any vehicle and in any order they wish to Wyocena Bar in Wyocena, KD’s Bar and Grill in Lodi, A&W’s Pour House in Poynette and J&J Fireball Lanes in Portage.

Participants will finish at Olde Chicago for a free dinner, where the poker hands will be distributed and judged at 4:30 p.m. An after-party open to anyone is then planned from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., featuring 50/50 raffle drawings and a silent auction, the proceeds from which will also benefit graduating seniors.

“As families, we want to do something good for the community,” said Muniz, who had worked as a teacher in the Pardeeville Area School District before she recently started work as a job coach at Northwoods Inc. in Portage.

“We hope people can come out and celebrate the memory of Christian and Cori and also help generations to come.”

Muniz wanted to organize an activity like Saturday’s even prior to her son’s death, she said, as the families today remain friends and neighbors in Pardeeville and at one time Cori was a student of hers.

“Cori’s death affected the entire community,” Muniz said. “I tried to do whatever I could, helping out with a few things at her funeral. … Then when this happened to my son, I just thought, let’s turn this horrible tragedy into something good.”

Christian loved cartoons, music, food and celebrations of any kind, his mother said. In addition to his school, he put in 35 hours per week in autism-related therapy. “Things were tougher for him as he got to be a teen, but he was such a sweet boy,” Muniz said. “A celebration like Saturday’s is what he would have loved to do.”

“Cori turned every day into a good day,” Dicken said. “She was always trying to help people, even those who bullied her — she had wanted to be nice to them, too, because she wanted to make an impact.

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