Country highways in Northeastern Pennsylvania roared as about a hundred motorcycles traversed the curves and hills to benefit area veterans on Saturday in the fourth annual Ride for the VA Vets fundraiser.
The event was sponsored by the American Legion Riders Post 495, which is based in Shickshinny.
The riders covered over 80 miles, starting in Shickshinny and ending at the Wilkes-Barre Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Once the riders descended upon the VA, they were greeted by veteran patients who welcomed them with open arms.
“We always have a good time meeting and greeting the veteran patients and hospital staff after the ride,” said Ed Dauch, president of the Shickshinny riders group and regional director for the group in Pennsylvania.
Veterans came out on foot or in wheelchairs to share the camaraderie with the riders, many of whom were veterans themselves, Dauch said.
“They are so happy to see us,” he said.
“These veterans are here because they served their country and ended up with an unfortunate disability,” Dauch said. “They really love when people come to visit.”
A Vietnam-era veteran, Dauch and the other members of the group decided four years ago to raise funds to help the VA hospital veterans get some essential items to make their lives better. Last year, they raised over $1,000 and hope to top that number with Saturday’s turnout.
Every dime raised will be given to the vets, he said. The money can be used by them to purchase necessities they a running low on. They need essentials like socks, toothpaste, pajamas, slippers and more, he added.
Or they can use the money for their own recreational fund, which will pay for going to movies, picnics and other events outside the hospital, he added.
Participants in the ride did not have to be veterans, anyone wishing to ride was welcome, Dauch said.
“It feels good to do something for the vets up there,” Dauch said. “Sometimes it seems like they are forgotten people.”