Raising the stakes


January 31, 2024

All-In to Fight Cancer’s Texas Hold’em event

All-In to Fight Cancer’s Texas Hold’em poker tournaments support local patients, survivors and families impacted by the disease.

by Michele Boudin

Kory Eubank can’t believe her husband’s “little brainchild,” All-in to Fight Cancer, is still going, let alone going strong. “When it started it was definitely just an idea — he and his friend and business partner just wanted to do something where everyone could participate, something fun with music,” she says. “That was important to him. What it is now, he never would have imagined.”

Kory’s husband Rob started the Texas Hold ’em poker tournament and fundraiser in 2010 not long after he was diagnosed with colon cancer. About 100 people attended the first event, mostly family and friends gathering to support Rob and raise money. He passed away at 41 in 2011, but his business partner and co-founder Steve Amedio and friends kept things going. Now, the annual fundraiser hosts 56 tables, each with nine players.

The nonprofit has raised more than $2.5 million for cancer survivors and families affected by the disease. Proceeds go to Charlotte-based charities doing work in those areas.

“We try to impact local nonprofits doing good work and helping all different kinds of people — colon, breast, lung cancer… I know that would make him really happy,” Eubank says. “We honor him by doing good work. That feels really good, and my kids are really proud.”

Go Jen Go supports women battling breast cancer and has been a beneficiary of AITFC since the beginning. Executive Director Susan Sears says the nonprofit is grateful for the generosity. “Our longtime partnership has had a significant impact on breast cancer patients in the Charlotte area. Funding provided by AITFC quite literally has helped more than 100 families facing the financial burden of breast cancer.” 

Two years ago, AITFC brought in Executive Director Clifton Castelloe to help grow the charity, which has since added annual poker tournaments in Winston-Salem and Raleigh. Winston-Salem is especially meaningful to the family — Rob was a Wake Forest University graduate, and all three of his kids are either current students there or recent graduates.

“Rob’s wish [was] that the event be an upbeat celebration and bring people together to relieve some of the fundraising burden on local organizations that are assisting survivors and their families day in and day out,” Castelloe says. Guests don’t have to know how to play poker to attend, he adds. “We have beginners who win the whole thing. It’s just a really fun night, and it always sells out.” 

Kory Eubank says she and their kids love being at the tournament every year and know Rob would be thrilled at how much it’s grown. 

“He’d be incredibly grateful that people still think of him and honor him in this way,” she says. “It’s humbling. Thirteen years later, it’s still relevant and impactful. … We raise money to give it away, and that would make him really happy.”  SP

All-In to Fight Cancer’s Texas Hold ’em event with live music is March 7 at The Fillmore.

Photographs by Leah Custer Photography

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