Riding for a Reason

VFW and American Legion bikers
plan fundraising rides

(August 2019) – Hundreds of motorcyclists are riding in August to support veterans and their families. On Aug. 3, the VFW Riders, sponsored by Madison, Ind., VFW Post 1919, are riding to raise support for the Fisher House at Fort Campbell, Ky. On Aug. 22, nearly 400 bikers participating in the 14th annual American Legion Legacy Run, which will cross the Milton-Madison Bridge on their way to Madison. Both organizations are working to reach significant fund-raising goals.

Photo provided

Jerry and Vanessa Jones take part in a previous benefit ride.

“Last year we raised $24,000, which made Madison Post 1919 the No. 1 VFW post in Indiana,” said Jerry Jones, president of the Madison VFW Riders. The upcoming August ride, The Fisher House Benefit Ride, supports the Fisher House, which provides lodging to a veteran’s family while the veteran is receiving treatment at Blanchfield Army Hospital. The following ride in September supports the local “Shop with a Cop” program. The previous ride in April raised funds for VFW Post 1919 to support local veterans’ programs.  
Bikes, Jeeps, trucks and cars are welcome. Registration on the day of the event is $20 per single and $25 per double. Sponsors pay $50 to include their logo on the back of the shirts for the riders. There are 50-50 raffles and auction items that raise additional funds. To keep each ride interesting, the routes change each time. However, one thing is consistent. “When we leave the VFW post, we ride over to the Veterans Cemetery. We pull in, shut off the bikes and pause quietly to show respect to our veterans at the beginning of each ride,” said Jones, 56.
The Fisher House Benefit Ride runs from noon to 5 p.m. It begins and ends at VFW Post 1919. There will be hot dogs in the park. Stops along the way will have snacks and door prizes. At the end of the ride, more food is ready. Boston pork butt and side dishes, plus music by the band, “Dirty Laundry,” and a live auction will complete the day. More than 140 riders participate in the local VFW benefit rides.

Photo provided

Rick Campfield (left) and Mike Bath plan to participate in 14th annual American Legion Legacy Run.

The VFW Riders want to know they are making a difference. “Recently, it was so rewarding to have the wife of a soldier call to thank us. She called it a “Ronald McDonald House” for the families of veterans,” Jones said. That telephone call reminded the Riders why their efforts are important.
Just three weeks later, on Aug. 22, a literal legion of riders will head for Madison. It is the final day of the 2019 American Legion Legacy Run, begins on Aug. 18, in Lady Lake, Fla., at Department of Florida Post 347, the largest American Legion Post in the world.
“These riders are riding to raise funds for an important cause, the American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund. The fund provides full scholarships to the children of post-911 veterans who were killed in action or severely disabled as a result of their military service,” explained Scott Bate, Public Information Officer of Madison’s American Legion Riders at Post 9. For the past five years, the American Legion Legacy Run has raised more than $1 million for the scholarship fund. Each year the funding has grown. This year the goal is more than $1.4 million. 
Mike Bath, Director of Riders for the Legion Post 9, is participating this year with fellow Legion member Rick Campbell. “It is not unusual to have 400 riders stretched out over a 10-mile span of the highway,” said Bath. “Riders are organized into small groups of 25-50 riders with a Road Captain and Assistant up front, and a Tail-Gunner at the end to keep the group together.” Bath will serve as a tail-gunner this year. The support team includes a full array of trucks and trailers for mechanical problems. Emergency medical staff follow the riders to respond to any accidents, illness or injuries.     
A quick lunch will be served to those riders and the support team at the Legion Post 9 when they arrive in Madison. Following the lunch break, the procession of riders will stop at the Indiana Veterans Memorial Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Maj. Samuel Woodfill Memorial. The memorial honors the local hero who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery during World War I.
The riders will then complete the Legacy Run by riding to Indianapolis, home of the Kenneth N. Dowden Wayne Post 64, the National Headquarters of the American Legion, and 101st National Convention of the American Legion.
The public is invited to greet the riders, cheer them on and donate to these important causes.

• To support the VFW Fisher House Benefit, contact the VFW Post 1919 at (812) 273-3001. To support the American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund, contact the American Legion Post 9 at (812) 265-4417.

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