RJ Cooper



A poker tournament raises funds for Spinal Cord Tumor Association, gives 13-year-old her coming-of-age party.

By Alyson Casey
Photos by Jason Johnson


The “Chance for Life” Charity Poker Tournament after party

In his day job, Brad Nierenberg, the founder and president of Alexandria-based Red Peg Marketing, helps large companies like GEICO and Chevrolet brand themselves at hundreds of high-profile events around the country, from county fairs to the Indy 500.

But for the branding and marketing pro there is perhaps no event that holds more special purpose than his own “Chance for Life” Charity Poker Tournament, which kicks off Saturday, February 22 at City Tavern Club in Georgetown.

Jeff Snyder, Ethan Foxman, Brad Nierenberg and Kennedy Snyder

Jeff Snyder, Ethan Foxman, Brad Nierenberg and Kennedy Snyder

The 13-hour event benefits the Spinal Cord Tumor Association, which in turn helps find a cure for people like Nierenberg’s niece, Kennedy Snyder, who suffers from the debilitating cancer. “Kennedy is just 13 years old but this young woman has been successfully battling the disease for 11 years,” Nierenberg says. “Everyone who comes to the event gets to meet Kennedy and connect with the person who inspires us. Once people meet Kennedy they understand why we are so passionate to raise money for research to help save her. Rarely do you meet someone so young that is fighting for the chance for life. Kennedy’s attitude, personality and glowing smile renders all compassionate.”

Chance For Life pulled in nearly $100,000 last year, and Nierenberg is hoping to surpass $1 million raised in total since he launched the fundraiser in 2005. All of the proceeds from the event are allocated toward helping to find a cure. This “100 percent commitment” of funds raised has helped make “tremendous strides” toward finding a cure for the disease, according to Nierenberg. This year’s returning sponsors include Apex Systems and DarCars, Ramsey Asset Management, Brightline Interactive, E Group, Portma, Inspira, Northwestern Mutual, Matt Martin Real Estate and Acumen. Washington Life magazine and Bisnow Media are the principal media sponsors again this year.

Pulled together by the RedPeg team, the all-day event draws largely from Nierenberg’s deep well of contacts from D.C.’s business community and the worlds of sports, marketing and media, with 200 amateur poker players (with a buy-in of $500) competing for the Holy Grail of Poker: A grand prize, $10,000 seat at the 2014 World Series of Poker tournament in Las Vegas.


All eyes on poker

The poker games run from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a wine tasting and dishes prepared by Rogue 24’s RJ Cooper after. A silent auction will also run throughout the day, including some very special opportunities to purchase a virtual guitar lesson from Ted Sablay of The Killers, a rowing lesson on the Potomac with U.S. Olympic rower Giuseppe Lanzone and the opportunity to take your kid to NBC4’s studios to tape their own weather broadcast with Chief Meteorologist Doug Kammerer. The after party runs from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., with live music by the Doug Segree Band and DJ Dirty Hands.

This year “Chance for Life” is raising more awareness than ever with the help of planned appearances from the likes of Shawn Springs of the Washington Redskins, Chris Bukowski of “The Bachelor,” Bret Baier of Fox News, the actor Scott Elrod (“Lone Survivor”) NBC 4’s Jim Vance, Jason Pugh of CBS Radio’s “Sports Junkies” and Brian Jarosinski of ABC’s “The Bachelorette” (2013 season.)

“Everything for the event is 100 percent donated so all of the proceeds go to the charity,” Nierenberg says. “Every year, every dollar raised goes towards curing spinal cancer and giving Kennedy another year of hope. The event is a celebration for this young girl who every year reminds us that our problems are pretty small compared to what she has gone through.”

If You’re Going…
Chance for Life 2014
Saturday, February 22, 2014
1 p.m. to 1 a.m.
The City Tavern Club
3206 M St. NW
Washington, D.C.

RJ Cooper