In 2006, then-MJFF board member David Einhorn and future board member Justin Lepone headed to Las Vegas to try their hand in the World Series of Poker. After placing 18th, David walked away with over $650,000. But he wouldnít hang on to it for long. He donated his entire pot to The Michael J. Fox Foundation.
That sparked an idea for David, president and co-founder of Greenlight Capital, Inc., where Justin is a partner: to keep playing poker to raise funds for Parkinsonís research. Playing to Win, the Foundationís annual poker tournament, was born, and has raised nearly $3 million to date.
Justin, who shares Davidís passion for poker, quickly got involved in the Foundationís tournaments. During the summer of 2011, they decided to try their luck again at the World Series of Poker. This time, they assembled a team, Poker for Parkinsonís, and called upon the expertise of their friend and World Poker Tour champion, Phil Gordon. The 11 players, including Phil as coach, went all in to get a win for Parkinsonís. Justin made it to the fourth day of playing, and was the teamís last man standing.
Not long after, Justin stepped up his involvement with the Foundation and joined the Leadership Council. He says, ďItís easy for me to want to be a part of this. Itís a top-notch organization.Ē He recalls being a teenager in the Ď80s and watching ďFamily Ties,Ē and later the Back to the Future trilogy. ďIíd been the 103-pound wrestler in high school, so I could identify with Michael J. Fox. I think he inspired then a generation of underdogs like me. And heís been a real inspiration in my life ever since.Ē
Justin and David are doubling down and going back to Las Vegas and the World Series of Poker. Once again, theyíre bringing with them the Poker for Parkinsonís team. They have the first (David) and third place (Justin) winners from this yearís Playing to Win tournament, along with the second place winner. Letís hope the odds are in their favor this July! Stay tuned to follow their progress.