Brothers on bikes band together to support Hawley Veterans Services Center

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As our nation’s capital enjoyed 58-degree temperatures, El Cajon relished sunny skies and high 70s, maybe even low 80s.  Perfect motorcycling weather, if asking a biker.

As our nation’s capital enjoyed 58-degree temperatures, El Cajon relished sunny skies and high 70s, maybe even low 80s.  Perfect motorcycling weather, if asking a biker.

And biker Kenny Patterson of the American Legion Riders Chapter 303 was obviously enjoying it.  Together with fellow bikers from the Chapter, he rolled into the Wrangler Family BBQ parking lot on EL Cajon Boulevard to provide support for a worthy cause.  He and his brothers, along with bikers unaffiliated with American Legion Riders (ALR), came together to enjoy some tasty BBQ and support the Hawley Veterans Services Center in El Cajon.  

According to the Volunteers of America website, the “Hawley Veterans Services Center is a transitional housing program for homeless Veterans with mental health diagnoses. This transitional housing program extends 20 beds to single male veterans who are homeless with disabilities. Veterans can reside in the program for up to two years and through personal goal setting and case management, can begin to work towards increasing skills and income for their successful transition to self-reliance.”  It would be hard to identify a worthier cause.

But of course, bikers do not need much of an excuse to crank up their bikes, ride to some location, come together, and support a worthy cause.  By their nature, bikers (with ride names like Danno, Big George, Santa Ken, Smokestack, Dr. Fixit, and Preacher) are a generous group.  And when they are all veterans, as are the members of ALR Chapter 303, supporting fellow veterans comes naturally.

Patterson, a relatively young Navy veteran – young relative to the gray beards surrounding him – is an officer in ALR Chapter 303.  He described how the Wrangler Family BBQ was “kicking back” a percentage of each meal purchased to the Hawley Veterans Service Center.  Veterans helping veterans and bikers helping veterans.  It is natural for our men and women in the military to continue to assist one another, even after taking off the uniform.   

After serving eight years of active duty in the U. S. Navy, Patterson said he joined the ALR, “because I want to give back to the veterans.”  And different from the norm, he was not previously a biker.  He admitted, “I actually started riding because I wanted to join the ALR.”  According to Patterson, a friend “got him into it” and introduced him to the ALR Chapter 303 past President, “Danno.”  Then, according to Patterson, “I got a bike” and the next thing he knows, he is one of the officers, the Secretary.  It is worth mentioning that most of the veteran bikers are in their 60s and older, so seeing a young vet joining in and being one of the officers is remarkable.  The giving back continues, from one generation to the next.

Patterson went on to explain that ALR Chapter 303 is based in El Cajon and does not have a “brick and mortar” building.  Instead they meet at the El Cajon School District.  Besides fundraising, like this Saturday, ALR Chapter 303 supports veteran organizations, at times working alongside other organizations, like the Patriot Guard Riders.  They also support other ALR chapters in the San Diego area as well.  (If interested in the American Legion Riders Chapter 303, go to www.americanlegionriders303elcajon.us/

From the scene inside Wrangler Family BBQ, this Saturday was going to be a success.  Sitting in the dining room, along the wall in front of the counter was a steady line of folks waiting to place their orders for some succulent BBQ.  Now what could be better than taking your bike out on a sunny Saturday, chatting with brother veterans, and enjoying a BBQ lunch?  And supporting fellow veterans experiencing a hard time of it?

Brothers on bikes band together to support Hawley Veterans Services Center

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