The Veterans Charity Ride arriving in Sturgis, 2015. Photos courtesy Indian Motorcycles.
The Veterans Charity Ride was an entirely new and highly successful idea started last year by veteran Army Paratrooper Dave Frey and Emmy-award winning director Robert Manciero. This year’s event is again sponsored by Full Vision Products and is slated to begin on July 30 in Los Angeles, proceeding across the western plains and the Continental Divide on scenic secondary roads to finish in South Dakota during Sturgis Bike Week on August 8-20. A total of 20 veterans will be selected to participate, including 15 ambulatory and five amputees or disabled veterans, and all will ride on Indian motorcycles and Champion trikes (or in a Champion side car attached to one of the bikes for those who are unable to pilot the bikes). The public can help decide who some of those 20 veterans are.
Ride founder Dave Frey states, “Giving veterans an outlet for their stress, and creating a way for them to find emotional balance, is critical. As a veteran myself, I’ve used long motorcycle rides for years as a mechanism to decompress. It occurred to me that others would benefit from the power of motorcycle therapy. The Veterans Charity Ride will provide this group of veterans with the benefits of riding, plus a camaraderie and brotherhood that veterans often have difficulty finding on their own.”
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and difficulties with re-assimilation to civilian life are common among Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, many of whom are still quite young. An estimated 20 percent of veterans in this group are experiencing PTSD and/or depression according to a 2014 survey. Motorcycle therapy is recognized as one of several effective therapies for veterans seeking relaxation, peace of mind and enjoyment.
Along the Veterans Charity Ride route, the group will make several stops in various venues to meet other veterans, supporters and riders, and participate in a range of activities, including off-road excursions and street rallies. In Sturgis, the veterans will be treated to a special “Hero’s Welcome” and have a week-long “ultimate rider” experience, taking part in the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
The Veterans Charity Ride in Utah, 2015.
In addition to 18 veterans chosen by the sponsoring team from various organizations, the new program called “Hero’s Ride of a Lifetime” is calling for open nominations from families and friends of veterans to select two other worthy participants. People are asked to visit VeteransCharityRide.org/Heros-Ride to nominate their favorite post-9/11 veteran and describe why he or she is deserving of this amazing experience. The veterans get to experience the great outdoors and some of the natural beauty this country has to offer, using motorcycles as a mechanism for healing. The online nomination program will run from March 4 through April 15, and the two chosen heroes will be announced on Memorial Day, May 30th, on the VeteransCharityRide.org website. More details and nomination forms are available at the website, or you can also visit FullVisionProductions.com for more details.
The event is also sponsored by Indian Motorcycles and Champion Sidecars, with additional sponsorship and support provided by Liberty Sport (official eyewear sponsor of VCR), Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab, Utah, Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorney, and The Legendary Buffalo Chip campground in Sturgis, South Dakota.
And, for those of you along the nine-day route, be sure to check out the schedule to see when these veterans may be riding through your area.