The American Legion Riders Gold Star Post 78 participates in many community events and charitable works, but one of the most enjoyable is their interaction with senior citizens.
Motorcycles and senior citizens are not a combination we usually put together, but when they do mingle, it’s a recipe for fun. Lots of fun and camaraderie was had by many of the residents at Riverview Terrace when the Manchester-based riders paid them a visit.
“They made my day, my week, and maybe my year,” said resident Mary Jones as she completed a ride on a massive Harley-Davidson motorcycle driven by Rick Jernigan. She said she used to own a motorcycle when she was growing up, and encouraged Jernigan to go slow so the ride would last longer.
He and wife, Faye, are both members of the elite group, donating many hours a year to the cause. The motorcycle enthusiasts travel around Middle Tennessee visiting folks and sharing their love of riding.
“We started out recognizing veterans, and they enjoyed it so much, we decided to include seniors,” said Rick. “They deserve all the happiness they can get, and we are glad to help out.”
The American Legion Riders were formed in 1993 in Michigan to enable members to come together to share a common love for motorcycles. There are over 106,000 riders in chapters across the country and at least three foreign countries.
The members are veterans who promote the aims and purposes of the American Legion as a family giving back to the community. They have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for children’s hospitals, schools, veterans homes, severely wounded service members and provide scholarships. Since 2006, riders nationwide have participated in the Legion Legacy Run, raising money for the Legacy Scholarship Fund benefiting children of U.S. military personnel killed since Sept. 11, 2001.
Michael Walden, director of the Gold Star Post 78, said, “We take pride in what we do, and try to serve with a smile, especially our veterans. We want them to know we are still thinking of them and have our full support.”
Army/Air Force veteran and Riverview resident Henry Starkey, 89, took a ride with Tom Mowbray. He waved and smiled for cameras as the two cruised around the complex parking lot.
Elma Anderson, also an Army veteran, was unable to ride, but sat on the porch and encouraged the others to enjoy the experience.
“I didn’t think I needed to ride today, but I appreciated the group and everything they do to spread cheer,” said Anderson.