Veteran motorcyclists present moving donations to charities

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The American Legion Riders are military veterans and family members who ride motorcycles. They are widely acknowledged as movers and shakers within The American Legion’s programs and organizations. At the early July installation of San Diego County’s District 22 elected officers, District 22 Commander Chris Yates asked Riders attending the ceremony to stand for recognition.

“The Riders are among the most effective programs, if not being the most effective program, in The American Legion,” said Yates.

The American Legion Riders are military veterans and family members who ride motorcycles. They are widely acknowledged as movers and shakers within The American Legion’s programs and organizations. At the early July installation of San Diego County’s District 22 elected officers, District 22 Commander Chris Yates asked Riders attending the ceremony to stand for recognition.

“The Riders are among the most effective programs, if not being the most effective program, in The American Legion,” said Yates.

The East County Riders of Santee American Legion Chapter 364 demonstrated what that effectiveness means, in their presentation of annual charity donations during the group’s July membership meeting on Tuesday, July 10.

The Santee Riders presented checks to two charity organizations that provide significant services to fellow military veterans free of charge. The donation recipients were Final Honors, which offers free horse-drawn carriage transport of veteran caskets and urns for funeral ceremonies at Miramar National Cemetery, and Paws for Purple Hearts, which partners veterans in need with specially trained companion service dogs.

George Glover, ALR Chapter 364 treasurer, is Rider-nicknamed “Gloves.” Glover spoke about the meaningfulness of these donations.

“These are both great organizations, outstanding organizations,” Glover said. “What these groups do for veterans is incredible.”

Glover further noted that the only other horse-drawn carriages available for military veteran funerals, besides Final Honor at Miramar, are offered at Arlington National Cemetery. Final Honor’s two horses, Katy and Kandy, transport eight to 12 veteran caskets in a black carriage each Monday at the Miramar cemetery.

Glover pointed out that this is first year the Riders of Chapter 364 have given a donation to Paws for Purple Hearts.

“This is amazing, what this group does, giving trained dogs free to veterans who need them,” Glover said.

ALR Chapter 364 President Rod Slavin (Rider named “Irish”) presented the donation checks to representatives Suzanne Porter of Final Honor and Kristen La Torre of Paws for Purple Hearts. La Torre brought along as co-recipient a service dog in training named Valiant, a year-and-a-half-old, and six months into training to basic service commands.

After receiving the donation check, Porter said, “This means so much to us. As a nonprofit charity, with what we do we are kind of a round peg in a square hole, and not often thought of by donors.”

The money donated to Final Honor will pay for care of the horses, insurance fees, maintenance of the carriages, and transportation costs.

The donations given had been earned from Santee Rider fundraising events, including motorcycle ride poker runs and “burger burn” meal sales. Slavin said that the Riders had met representatives of Final Honor a few years ago and began supporting the nonprofit last year. As for the second charity his Riders chose, Slavin related that the group learned of Paws for Purple Hearts during the spring, when that nonprofit organization opened a San Diego facility for training service dogs.

More information about ALR Chapter 364 can be acquired by email at americanlegionriders364@gmail.com. More about Final Honor can be seen online at www.FinalHonor.net, and information on Paws for Purple Hearts can be viewed at www.paws4ph.org.