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American Legion bikers hit the road to raise awareness

todayJune 8, 2024 4

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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Some members of the South Dakota American Legion are riding their motorcycles as a group from community to community this weekend.

They’re trying to help the public understand more about veterans who have served in the nation’s armed forces and raising money from American Legion posts along the way.

Six of the riders gathered at the South Dakota Capitol on Saturday morning to have their big road bikes blessed and begin what they’re calling the Ride 605 for Vets.

One of the riders was Fred Nelson of Spearfish, a past state commander. “This is our second ride around South Dakota. We did the first one in 2021, and we raised about $6,700 that time, and we’re looking to hopefully match that this time,” he said.

Saturday’s riders traveled from Pierre to Highmore, Stephan and Fort Thompson, had lunch in Chamberlain, then went on to Dimock and Ethan, before spending the night in Mitchell.

They’re on a four-day loop that will have them spending Sunday night in Sioux Falls and Monday night in Redfield, then heading back to Pierre on Tuesday.

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“We pick up riders in the different communities that we go through,” Nelson said. “We’re starting out here this morning with a nice group — but yeah, we hope to see some more riders.”

He said the 2021 ride had 15 to 20 bikes. “That’s the primary group. Then there’s those that jump in along the way,” he said.

“The money goes to help the South Dakota American Legion foundation,” Nelson said. “It’s a foundation we set up with the South Dakota Community Foundation. Basically we use that to help us with the children’s programs and the veterans programs that we do.”

Anything specific?

“Boys State’s a big one,” Nelson said. “Veterans rehabilitation, we try to help out the vets that are staying at the VAs and get them what they need that the VA can’t get ’em.”

VA is short for the federal Veterans Administration. The American Legion has 240 posts in South Dakota, with about 18,000 to 19,000 people, Nelson said.

Some of the riders sipped morning coffee and renewed friendships as they waited for the blessing ceremony.

“It’s going to be a great day,” Nelson said. “The weather looks great in South Dakota. Riding’s going to be good. Riding through the community the flags waving on the bikes, it’s always great to see the attention that the flags get, the hands on the heart, some salute. So it’s great being in South Dakota.”

Written by: The Dam Rock Station

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