In 2005, Bernard Lee won nearly half-a-million dollars in the World Series of Poker. But the Wayland resident and father of two is betting on the happiness of others this year.
Lee, a former marketing manager for Boston Scientific, will donate holiday packages worth about $250 each to more than 50 children in the Lawrence area on Thursday, according to a press release. The donations are part of The Full House Charity Program, which provides a minimum of $20,000 annually to organizations across New England that focus on children.
"In the spirit of the holiday season, my hope is that these packages bring joy to struggling families," Lee said. "I feel so grateful for my family that I want to share some holiday cheer with families other than my own."
Lee's children, Noah and Maya, will help him hand out the packages at the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center. They will meet with 27 families, including 53 children, and Lee will host a dinner.
"This is the second year that Bernard has helped GLFHC families in our empowerment group programs," said Dr. Jeffrey S. Geller, director of Integrative Medicine and Group Programs at the health center. "His contribution of thoughtful gifts and food goes a long way towards making the holidays special and helping our participants feel important."
Each family will receive a gift certificate to a local restaurant and a cheddar sampler pack from Cabot Cheese, the Full House Charity Program's lead sponsor.
Each child will receive a holiday package that includes winter clothing, a hat and gloves, books, toys, a ball or game, art supplies, holiday sweets, a stuffed animal, and a Cabot Cheese children's fun pack. Lee honored specific requests from every child, the press release said.
Lee launched the charity program in February 2011, and raised an additional $6,000 earlier this year for two additional charities, Playing It Forward, Inc., out of Framingham, which provides new and used sports equipment to under-served children around the world; and a local Massachusetts chapter of Best Buddies.
Lee was the top New England finisher when he placed 13th in the 2005 World Series of Poker, and turned professional in 2007. He has won almost $2 million and three titles playing on the tournament circuit.
In November, Lee was selected to serve as commentor of the World Series of Poker Circuit on ESPN3, the press release states, and he also comments for the Eastern Poker Tour. He has previously been a cohost of ESPN's online poker show, Inside Deal.
Presently, Lee is the host of "The Bernard Lee Poker Show" in Boston, Worcester, and Cape Cod, and RoundersRadio.com, the largest online poker talk radio station in the world.
A poker columnist for ESPN.com, Card Player magazine, and other media outlets, Lee has released two books, "The Final Table, Volume I" and "Volume II."
Laura Franzini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.