For the 8th year in a row, the American Legion Riders from the LT Warren Eaton Post 189 – Norwich New York sponsored a Benefit Poker Run to support the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project. Armed Forces Day (May 18th) 2013 was a slightly overcast but very comfortable day for a ride through the hills, valleys, and farmlands of beautiful Chenango County New York. The Legion Riders began their day with Breakfast at the Ontario Hotel and were glad to have the chance to visit with Karen and Brian Grimord before the hectic festivities started. Eager participants began arriving at the Post-Home shortly after 9 AM while the Legion Riders were setting up and preparing for registration.
The bikes started to rumble in quickly after that and our staff was busy filling out paperwork, selling various raffle tickets, providing coffee and donuts and parking bikes. We kicked off the formal portion at about 10:45 AM with a blessing and the Pledge of Allegiance. Chapter President Paul Russo introduced key group members: VP Jim Cushman; Secretary Sophie Liberatore; Treasurer Resi Fuller; Membership Chair Jerry Reyes; and Ride Captain/Sergeant at Arms/Safety Officer Bill Fowler. Also recognized were our friends from various other Legion Rider Chapters, members of the Blue Knights, members of the Leathernecks, members of the local Under my Skin group, Karen and Brian Grimord as well as Norwich Chief of Police Joe Angelino. Chief Angelino is a Combat Vet and Purple Heart recipient that actually had recovered from wounds, received in Iraq, at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
Yankee Bill Fowler provided a ride safety briefing and the ride got underway to the cheers of many from the local neighborhood that had gathered outside the Legion parking lot’s back gate. There were over 100 participants signed in and the roar of over 80 cycles through the normally quiet Norwich streets was awesome!
Our first stop was at the NYS Veterans Home in Oxford – we paused to visit with a few of the Vet Residents that came outside to greet us and then it was back on the road to our lunch stop at the Balsam Inn in East Pharsalia – delicious grilled sandwiches and some door prize giveaways. Rolling again – we make our way to the hamlet of DeRuyter and the ‘Middleton Military Memorial’ – Retired First Sergeant and Viet Nam Vet – Bill Middleton has created a beautiful and solemn place to commemorate those that served and sacrificed during that conflict…the display includes a Viet Nam era UH-1 ‘Huey’ Helicopter that was ‘in-country’ and flew on many missions. After a few group photos we saddled up again for the longest leg of the day’s ride.
Riding back roads from DeRuyter through Georgetown and Earlville, on our way to Sherburne, we passed many farms and fields – people stopped their yard work and outdoor activities to watch and wave at our parade. We were treated to a great view of some of the local Mennonite farmers working their fields with awesomely huge draw horses – that was quite a sight! We arrived safely back in ‘civilization’ and stopped at the Gilligans’ Island Ice Cream shop for some cool treats. Gilligans has been a great supporter of LHCP – setting aside ‘donation days’ for the charity when they donated a percentage of daily receipts to the cause!
Sadly – we ‘mounted up’ for the final leg of the trip and headed back to the Legion Post in Norwich. After making sure we had a good account of all the riders and making sure everyone was safe…we moved inside and people began to draw cards for their Poker Hands. As the score-sheets were being reviewed – Riders Chapter Officers began drawing tickets for a mountain of door prizes. The number of donations this year was once again amazing and well over half of the attendees went home with at least a little something! The high hand was one by a gentleman with three sevens and the low hand trophy went to a rider with a ‘9-high nothing’. Our Chapter Secretary, Sophie Liberatore, awarded her traditional “Sophie’s Choice” award for her choice out of the awesome and beautiful motorcycles that were ridden in the event. Exciting 50/50 Raffles and gift raffles were given away, to some lucky participants. Chapter President and Ms. Grimord offered some final thoughts and “thank yous” to all who made this day great – and we announced that the total donation would be well over $4,000 for the day’s efforts! Awesome Ride and Awesome Day for an Awesome Cause – the Riders would like to thank Karen and the LHCP for the work they do and thank you all for allowing us to be, but a small part, of this worthwhile effort
ByYankee Bill Fowler
Sergeant at Arms
American Legion Riders Post 189 NY