–by Mary Helen Darah
PUBLICATION DATE: 03.21.17
American Legion Riders hit the pavement for a purpose. The national organization was founded by motorcycle enthusiasts and long-time riders, Chuck “Tramp” Dare and Bill “Polka” Kaledas in 1993 to help veterans. The group that began with 19 founding members, has grown to 106,000 motorcyclists consisting of veterans and sons and daughters of those who served.
Tony Roemmele has been part of the local American Legion Riders 1st District through the American Legion Joseph Diehn Post 468, located on Centennial Road in Sylvania, for the past five years. “I have been involved with the American Legion for the past eight years. I joined as a ‘son.’ My father served in World War II and my brother was in the Army and National Guard. He is a true public servant,” stated Roemmele. “I learned about the American Legion Riders through my involvement with the American Legion. I have always liked toys–snowmobiles, dirt bikes, wave runners—and I had a bike. It seemed like a great way to help veterans. We have 111 chapters in Ohio that consist of male and female riders. It’s not just a boy’s club.”
The group has come together to assist vets in numerous and eclectic ways from participating in Rolling Thunder to helping to fund the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Replica and Mobile Education Center. “During the Flint water crisis, we filled a whole semi with donated water to be taken to Flint,” recalled Roemmele. “We received help from American Legion Riders in Maumee, West Unity, Swanton, Whitehouse, Elmore, Napoleon, and Morenci, Mich.”
Roemmele has also ridden with riders in Swanton to benefit the Battle for Buddy Foundation. “The organization gives veterans back from service with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) trained therapy dogs,” explained Roemmele. “Through that ride last year, they donated 15K to the foundation. That’s a great deal of money for a small group of bikers. Through that same event, a group of riders escorted an American flag, constructed out of toy army men, made by students in Indiana as a senior class project. We rode from Indiana to the American Legion in Swanton. It was very meaningful that kids would do that for our vets.”
The next event the riders are sponsoring is a
American Legion Joseph Diehn Post 468,
5580 Centennial Rd.
f2 p.m.-7 p.m.
Roemmele will be volunteering at the drive and hopes the public supports their efforts. “I didn’t serve in the military and it is my way of helping,” stated Roemmele. “I get a lot out of it. An extra added-bonus are the friendships that I have made through my involvement with the organization. There are rides every weekend from the end of May through October throughout Ohio. There is something to do every weekend to help our veterans. All events are open to the public. Many times, there is entertainment and food and the public is welcome to the after-event as well. It is a requirement that riders be a son our daughter of someone who served in the military or a member of the military to be part of the American Legion Riders. But everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate. It is wonderful to ride for a purpose; to help our veterans.”
For information or to sign up for the blood drive on May 5, call 419-276-3062.
For more information about the American Legion Riders please visit: legion.org/riders