The theme for Veterans Charity Ride (VCR) to Sturgis 2020 was “Service Before Self” (a belief held by most veterans). This theme was very timely considering the COVID-19 issues we’ve all dealt with since last March.
Service Before Self and giving back to others has always been a key element of our VCR program. This activity has an incredibly healing effect on our veterans and this year it was even more important for us and the communities we rode through.
With the support of all our incredible sponsors we were able to deliver our program to veterans in need and hand out over 200 Pandemic Medic Kits (PPE) generously donated by our partner My Medic in Salt Lake City. Our veterans distributed much needed PPE kits to the following small town front line workers:
Grand County, UT - EMS First Responders.
Castle Valley, UT - Fire Department
Craig, CO - Regional Hospital and First Responders.
Sturgis, SD - Law Enforcement and EMS & First Responders.
We had fifteen (15) veterans in the program and four (4) civilian support crew members, which included our health/wellness coach, professional chef, professional photographer and support truck driver. Additionally, six VCR alumni veterans joined us for support, mentoring, Motorcycle Therapy and AdventureVet activities.
The veterans came from all over the USA;
New York, California, Texas, Utah, North Carolina, South Dakota, Indiana, Arizona, Nebraska, Idaho and Georgia, representing the Army, Navy, Marines & Air Force.
As part of our veteran support crew we had two medics that were in charge of keeping all our veterans and crew safe and healthy. They set up twice daily health checks of all participants and educated everyone on how to effectively wear their PPE and social distance when necessary.
The program began in Moab, UT Wednesday July 29, where we spent a week starting with a Motorcycle Safety Course and added Motorcycle Therapy rides, AdventureVet activities that included off-road excursions in side by sides, dirt bikes, river rafting, horseback riding and therapeutic veteran to veteran discussions. It was during these discussions that the healing began in earnest, addressing issues our veterans deal with daily, some for many years.
The journey to Sturgis started Tuesday August 4th, riding on the most beautiful backroads of Utah and Colorado, landing us at the VFW in Craig, CO. The town, with local veterans and supporters put on a spectacular dinner which featured a whole roast pig along with homemade fixings and desserts! They gave us a real hometown welcome!
The next morning we continued our journey across Colorado, through the Rocky Mountains, making our way to Northern Colorado Veteran’s Plaza in Fort Collins Colorado. We were met by more veterans and supporters. The Healing Warriors group provided some much needed physical therapy and acupuncture treatments and dinner was provided by Freddie’s Steakburgers. Once again, we were blown away by the love and generosity of this wonderful community.
We woke up early the next morning and rode out of Colorado through the plains of Wyoming, stopping at various places of interest and taking in the wide open spaces, stopping in Casper for the night.
On Friday morning, Aug. 7, the first day of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the group was up early and excited to get on the road to experience what has been on everyone’s bucket list for many years. We rode to Devil’s Tower where we again connected with our six VCR veteran alumni and enjoyed a very special lunch, generously hosted by the family owned restaurant at the foot of Devil’s Tower. The food was great and the view of Devil’s Tower was spectacular. We were not far from Sturgis, the anticipation was building.
After lunch we rode through the western side of the famous Black Hills as we approached Sturgis, there were thousands of motorcycles, the guys realized we were close. We arrived mid afternoon and rode down iconic Main Street Sturgis, hundreds and hundreds of motorcycles lining the street leading to Indian Motorcycle of Sturgis, our final destination. We were met by a large and loyal group of fellow veterans and supporters, many of whom have been there to meet us every year.
We had finally made it- we were in Sturgis! The expressions on the faces of the new veterans was priceless. A few weeks ago, for some of the veterans just leaving the house for simple errands or being in crowds was difficult. They left the “safety” of their homes, to meet fellow veterans that truly helped them with their issues, rode cross country to meet even more new people who support them and showed them they are appreciated. The feelings of excitement, relief and accomplishment came flooding over all involved. It was a very good day!!
We spent the next five days riding the beautiful Black Hills, visiting Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park, Needles Highway and Crazy Horse Monument, giving our fellow veterans the authentic Sturgis Motorcycle Rally experience. Most importantly, we positively impacted the lives of 100% of our veterans in the program.
The best way to describe what happens during our program is a magic spark of healing gets ignited by the beauty and tranquility of Moab, then we throw in a big dose of Motorcycle Therapy (that feeling of being in the present moment, in command of your machine with the wind in your face) add lots of space, fresh air, healthy food, exciting AdventureVet excursions that build trust and create lifelong friendships. Along the way we meet up with fellow veterans and grateful supporters and cap it with honest veteran to veteran discussions. This is our simple but powerful formula for changing and saving lives.
Army veteran and amputee Tony Doyle, a sidecar passenger, was so moved and helped by our program that he purchased a motorcycle and fitted it with a sidecar. Tony, was an avid motorcyclist but had not ridden since he lost his leg in combat. This experience changed his life and he is now a proud member of the VCR family and wants to return in 2021 as a mentor.
We are beyond grateful to all of our partners, sponsors, volunteers and supporters. VCR would not be possible without the out-pouring of support and love from each and every one of you. There are hundreds of details that go into the planning and execution of this ride; bikes, gear, transportation, food & lodging, the promotion and coordination of many people and groups to name a few. But it is all the amazing, unique individuals that give their time, goods, money, help and support that really make VCR work. Thank you for helping us fulfill our mission. Looking forward to working with you again in 2021.
Dave, Sue, Jacque & The VCR Family