|Sexton's Corner, Vol.61:
Mike Sexton receives "Patriot Award"
from Paralyzed Veterans
hen Mike Sexton won the 2006 WSOP Tournament
of Champions, he had to beat two great players at
the end of a grueling final table: Mike Matusow who
placed 3rd and Daniel Negreanu who was runner-up.
Mike won $1,000,000 for 1st place, and decided to donate
$500,000 to charity. He selected five worthy causes and donated
$100,000 to each one:
Harrah’s and the WSOP executives were very proud to host a special ceremony at the top of the Rio honoring each of these organizations. This would
be such a positive story for the entire poker world, the kind of story that needs to be told. Let’s hope Congress is paying attention, as each year there
are so many good causes supported by the poker Industry and other high profile players like Barry Greenstein, Jennifer Harman, Phil Gordon, Annie
Duke, and many others.
My brother Mike called me and said, “Tom, I’ve been nominated to receive a very prestigious
award called the “Patriot Award” from the Paralyzed Veterans of America. It doesn’t get any
higher than that! I want you to go with me to Portland, Oregon next week to their convention’s
Awards Ceremony. Karen and I aren’t sure when the baby is going to be born, but if it is the same
week-end, I’m going to stay with her, and you’ll have to represent me in Portland on my behalf and
receive the award.” As many probably already heard by now, the baby arrived on Aug. 21st at 8
lbs. 6 ounces on the same week-end as the Paralyzed Veterans of America’s 62nd Convention was
giving their awards for 2008. I ended up going to Portland on Mike and Karen’s behalf, and want
to share a few thoughts about the trip.
I arrived in Portland and checked into the Doubletree Hotel. I was greeted by Mark Dowis,
Associate Executive Director of Marketing and Development for the PVA. He was so cordial and
understanding of Mike’s situation, and he thanked me for filling in for him. The Awards Brunch was
held the next day between 10:30 AM and 1:30 PM, and I got to meet so many wonderful people:
Randy L. Pleva Sr., National President of the PVA; Michael Delaney, Associate Director of
Corporate Marketing for the PVA; Homer S. Townsend Jr., Executive Director for the PVA, and
so many other prominent members. The Paralyzed Veterans of America is an organization that was
a lot bigger than I realized. In fact this was the PVA’s 62nd Annual Convention that started on
August 16th and lasted all week, with the PVA’s closing Awards Brunch on August 23rd.
The Awards Brunch was absolutely riveting with a total of 13 Awards given out, some to members
and some to non members for their extraordinary services during the year. From the three Speedy
Awards that have been given out since 1957, to the Schweikert Award, to the Bob Webb Award,
to the Cliff Crase Award, to the President Award, to several Service Awards……there were only
two Patriot Awards:
Tom Sexton is called up to the stage to accept the
Individual Giving Patriot Award on behalf of
Mike and Karen Sexton
1.) The Corporate Patriot Award, won by Dr. Sue Mandry-Schwartz, Vice President of Beneficiary and
Congressional Relations for Health Net Federal Services. Dr. Schwartz has been a liaison for the PVA’s
partnership with HNFS and has been a champion of PVA’s programs since HNFS’s first national sponsorship of
the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. I felt fortunate to be seated next to her at the Awards Brunch, as she
was charming as well as very modest. When she accepted her Corporate Patriot Award, she was very graceful as
well as emotionally touched to receive the high honor.
2.) The Individual Giving Patriot Award was won by Mike and Karen Sexton. In the PVA’s impressive 2008 brochure, it said the following:
For their generous support of PVA’s Mike and Karen Sexton have been chosen
recipients of the 2008 Individual Giving Patriot Award. Following presentation of
their $100,000 gift to PVA, Mike was the driving force behind the Inaugural PVA
Poker Charity event in Washington, D.C. Known as the “Ambassador of Poker”
for his contributions to the poker industry, Mike gained celebrity status as the
host/commentator on the World Poker Tour. As a participant, he won the World
Series of Poker Tournament of Champions in 2006 and the $1,000,000 first prize.
Mike has been involved in the poker industry for more than 20 years. Before he
became a professional player, he attended Ohio State University on a gymnastics
scholarship. After graduating, he joined the U.S. Army in 1970, serving as a
paratrooper stationed with the 82ndAirborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. Mike’s
poker accomplishments include several impressive wins: the European Finals of
Poker in 2000, the Inaugural Foxwoods World Poker Finals No Limit
championship in 1992, the Four Queens Summer Classic No Limit championship
in 1996 (which he successfully defended in 1997), and the Heads-Up
Championship in Paris in 2003. Mike and Karen live in Las Vegas and are
expecting a baby in August.
(Above) Mike and Karen with their 1 day old beautiful baby boy, Ty
Michael Sexton. The baby and the PVA convention arrived about
the same time, so Mike asked his brother Tom to fly to Portland to
accept the prestigious Patriot Award. Their baby boy was a healthy 8
lb. 6 ounces, and the members of the PVA were so happy to hear
about the good news for Mike and Karen.
Well, the brochure sure got that part right, as Karen delivered her 8 lb. 6 ounce
healthy boy, Ty Michael Sexton, one day before the scheduled 2008 PVA’s
Award Brunch! As a result, I found myself in Portland, Oregon doing my best
to represent them.Right before the Patriot Award was awarded on stage the
Master of Ceremonies mentioned that the $100,000 donation from Mike and
Karen helped purchase a beautiful special bus in the NY Chapter that could accommodate 13 people with space for 13 wheel chairs. This has allowed
paralyzed veterans to attend many New York Yankee games and a variety of other fun activities. As I was waiting to go on stage to accept this
prestigious award, I was thinking to myself how proud I was of my brother for making this possible as a poker player. I wondered what the other four
$100,000 donations constructively did for the other charities Mike donated that day, when he won the $1,000,000 1st place prize at the 2006
WSOPTOC. Winning a big poker title is wonderful, but the fulfilling gratification of making a real difference in the world through generosity, has to be the
ultimate best feeling of all!
In accepting the Patriot Award, Mike had asked me to read the following remarks on his and Karen’s behalf to the large audience:
First of all, I apologize for not being here to accept this prestigious award. My wife Karen and I are expecting our first child, a baby boy,
“Ty Michael Sexton”, at any moment. I appreciate my brother Tom accepting this award on my behalf.
I am humbled and honored to receive the PVA Patriot Award. I truly cannot think of a much greater honor. I want to thank the committee
for selecting me over many worthy nominees. I also want to give special thanks to our paralyzed veterans who have served and sacrificed
so that we may enjoy our freedoms and lifestyle.
I have always been a proud veteran. I was in the 82nd Airborne Division during the Vietnam era. Like all vet’s, I fully realize that but for
the grace of God, I could be in a wheelchair like many of you.
We all owe paralyzed veterans a debt of gratitude that we can never repay. On behalf of citizens throughout the United States, let me say
“thankyou” to all veterans, especially paralyzed vet’s, for your service to our country.
I wish everyone had an opportunity, like me, to visit VA hospitals throughout the country. Seeing the paralyzed vet’s and the sacrifices
they have made will definitely make you appreciate what they go through and their contributions to the service of our country. I believe all
junior high and high school kids should be required to go so that they may understand and appreciate the sacrifices service people make.
I’ve also had success as a player and I’m the host of the World Poker Tour. Because of that, I’ve become somewhat of a celebrity in the
poker world. That has provided me an opportunity to help benefit various charities, especially the one that is closest to my heart, the PVA.
Earlier this year, we held a charity event in Washington D.C. called, “Go All-in for Vets”. Next year, we’ll double that number with a
charity event in Las Vegas as well as Washington D.C. Hopefully, we can continue to expand the “Go All-in for Vet’s” events around the
country and raise a lot of money for the PVA.
Thank you again for this prestigious PVA Patriot Award. I will cherish it always. And once again, special thanks to the real heroes, the
Paralyzed Veterans of America.
I followed Mike’s letter up with a few comments about my brother and what he has meant to the poker world as an Ambassador, a TV pioneer, an
Internet pioneer, and a Poker Visionary. I mentioned how proud I was of his generosity with the $500,000 he donated out of his $1,000,000 1st place
prize at the 2006 WSOPTOC to five different charities, with $100,000 donated to the Paralyzed Veterans of America. I talked about a sign that has sat
on Steve Wynn’s desk for many years that is a quote by Jonathan Swift. It says, “Vision is the art of seeing things invisible”. Even though Steve has had
retinitis pigmentosa, where he has lost his eyesight over time, he remarkably continues to build the finest Hotel/Casinos in the world! Mike in the poker
world has always had vision, where he is able to see things ahead of its time that looks invisible to many others. He truly has had that special gift called
vision almost his whole poker career.
As I left to fly out here yesterday from Las Vegas, Mike told me, “Tom, I’ve received a lot of awards from the past, but the “Patriot Award” from the
Paralyzed Veterans of America is the highest honor anyone could receive!”
Your selection this year of Mike Sexton is an outstanding choice for the Patriot Award. In the poker world, Mike Sexton is at the top of his class. He
has become a TV celebrity for sure, but has remained gracious and modest to one and all. He has accomplished a lot as a competitor and promoter, but
has always remained humble in his journey.
On behalf of my brother, Mike Sexton, I am profoundly humbled and happy to accept this prestigious award, “The Patriot Award” from the Paralyzed
Veterans of America. It is such an honor, and I know Mike is so humbled to receive this award today. As Mike said, “God Bless each one of you for
your patriotism and service to our Country. You are the true heroes!”………………..Thank you so much.
The Cab Is Parked,
Steve Chung from Hong Kong landed on the 2008 bubble in 667th place. As he got up to leave with the TV
cameras following him out the door, he surprisingly was tapped on the shoulder to turn around, and was asked to
first head to the WSOP official table where WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack and WSOP Tournament Director
Jack Effel shook his hand to congratulate his performance. Next it was announced that the official WSOP sponsor,
Milwaulkee’s Best Light Beer had donated a $10,000 entry for Mr. Chung into next year’s Main Event! So Mr.
Chung becomes entry number 1 into the 2009 WSOP Main Event!
|This week's poker trivia question # 11
(the answer will be given in next week's column)
How many different nations and territories were represented in the 2008 WSOP Main Event versus the
2007 Main Event?
|Last Weeks Poker Trivia Question & Last Weeks Answer,
Poker Trivia Question # 10
The 2008 WSOP Main Event paid out 666 places, which made the bubble land on 667th place. The bubble paid zero,
versus $21,230 minimum for 666th. Who landed on the bubble this year and where is he from? The third part of this
question is: What happened to him as the TV cameras were following him out the door that had never happened
After accepting this award Tom is at the speaking podium to read his brother's remarks thanking the PVA for
considering him as a nominee for 2008. Included in this article is both Mike's words and his brother Tom's comment
about his brother in front of the large audience.
Above right is the honor guard of decorated PVA members asked to come to the stage entrance before the top member
award of the evening was announced. This would be the highest member award in the PVA, called The President Award.
This special award was given to Joseph L. Fox Sr., immediate past President of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. His
touching acceptance speech was enjoyed by all those who were lucky enough to be there. His dedication and hard work over
the years in leading the PVA was appreciated by all the members. Congratulations Joe!
Tom Sexton is the featured columnist on www.SextonsCorner.com, which has become one of poker's most popular and unique online web sites
around. It offers poker's most colorful stories with amazing photos and film clips to enjoy, with easy navigational capabilities. A new story appears
every Monday for the readers to look forward to. Check out the multiple home pages, the Archives, the Las Vegas Poker Rooms,
Poker's Trivia pages, and the Poker Store, where unique poker products are available for purchase. Tom was the official WSOP photographer
for Binion's Horseshoe from 1999 thru 2002, and is well known in the poker world for his world class artistic collages of poker's biggest stars with
Poker Masterpieces! Tom was an Ohio High School State All-Around gymnastic's champion as well as the 1st NCAA All-American and Big Eight
gymnastic's champion in history at the University of Oklahoma. He went on to teach High School and coached the gymnastic's team to several State
Championships. His brother, Mike Sexton, found TV fame as host for the World Poker Tour, now entering it's seventh remarkable season, and was
voted by his peers as Poker's Ambassador for his contributions to the industry. Tom welcomes your thoughts and comments about any of his articles.
His email is: Tom@SextonsCorner.com