Rid­ing for the fallen

The Covington News - - Front page - PETE MECCA Spe­cial to The News

One of the most spir­ited and self-sac­ri­fic­ing vet­eran sup­port groups wears leather vests and chaps, hel­mets, rid­ing or af­ter-rid­ing boots and the ladies might don an as­sort­ment of rid­ing beads. They are known as the Amer­i­can Le­gion Riders.

Rain or shine, in muggy sum­mer or bit­ter win­ter, the mo­tor­cy­cle-rid­ing pa­tri­ots of the Amer­i­can Le­gion Riders con­tin­u­ally an­swer the call to es­cort and pay homage to our fallen war­riors. Theirs is a noble cause. They ride at their own ex­pense to honor our vet­er­ans and to share their mu­tual love for mo­tor­cy­cles.

With­out seek­ing praise or recog­ni­tion, they ride to raise thou­sands of dol­lars for schools, chil­dren’s hos­pi­tals, schol­ar­ships, trib­utes, vet­eran causes, char­i­ties and even took the time to par­tic­i­pate in the Ok­to­ber­fest Parade in He­len. These are not the stereo­typ­i­cal bik­ers of Hells An­gels no­to­ri­ety, but a soft-hearted and pa­tri­otic group of Amer­i­cans will­ing to give rather than take. Their oc­cu­pa­tions and ac­com­plish­ments are

as var­ied as their bikes, most of which cost more than a Kia.

When not rais­ing money, they at­tend troop send-offs and/or wel­come home men and women of our armed forces from re­cent de­ploy­ments. They may visit a lo­cal VA hospi­tal one day, then bring a smile to a vet­er­ans’ home res­i­dent the next.

And they take care of their own. Le­gion­naire and Amer­i­can Le­gion Rider Danny Stephens was re­cently di­ag­nosed with ALS, known as Lou Gehrig’s Dis­ease, and had a tough year bat­tling the dis­ease. The Riders placed Danny on the back of a trike (3-wheeled bike) re­cently and took him on a short trip which in­cluded his fa­vorite res­tau­rant.

I dis­cov­ered a new­found re­spect for the Riders on the May 22 Honor Flight which started at the Amer­i­can Le­gion in Cony­ers. As I boarded the bus with my World War II vet­eran in a misty rain, the Riders throt­tled their bikes and pa­tiently awaited the car­a­van’s de­par­ture for Harts­field-Jack­son air­port. No frowns, no com­plaints, just big smiles and a cando feel-good at­ti­tude of an­other job well-done. My vet­eran no­ticed, and said, “Those mo­tor­cy­cle peo­ple are very ded­i­cated. Re­mind me to thank them.”

One note­wor­thy fundraiser is the na­tion­wide Legacy Schol­ar­ship Fund to pro­vide schol­ar­ships for the chil­dren of mil­i­tary per­son­nel who were killed in ac­tion on or af­ter 9/11.

Since 2006, all Ameri- can Le­gion Riders sources, by their benev­o­lence and gen­eros­ity, have raised ap­prox­i­mately $3 mil­lion for var­i­ous causes.

The U.S. Marines are al­ways look­ing for ‘a few good men.’ The Riders are al­ways look­ing for ‘a few good riders.’ If you love mo­tor­cy­cles and esprit de corps, ride for a great cause.

Pho­tos by Dar­rell Everidge /The Cov­ing­ton News

Amer­i­can Le­gion Riders take to the road to honor the mem­ory of Maj. Wal­ter David Gray, who was killed in Afghanistan. The riders of­ten ac­com­pany funeral pro­ces­sions to honor the U.S.’s bravest sol­diers and pub­lic safety per­son­nel that died in the line of duty

Lo­cal Amer­i­can Le­gion riders gather in Lo­ganville to pre­pare for the funeral ride for Maj. Wal­ter Gray.

Dar­rell Everidge /The Cov­ing­ton News

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