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Locals raise money for the troops

Rock the Dock Pub & Grill event raises more than $2,500 for Operation Ward 57

(From L-R) Volunteers James Dahl and Joe Brown pose with Operation Ward 57’s Executive Director, Brittney Hamilton, during the organization’s large-scale fundraiser in Tacoma Aug. 6-7. /Melissa Renahan

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Last Saturday, the Rock the Dock Pub & Grill in Tacoma was a rowdy place filled with loud music, flowing beverages and a parking lot filled with motorcycles - all for a good cause. The first ever Rock & Rally for the Troops event, organized to benefit the nonprofit Operation Ward 57, featured an afternoon motorcycle dice run, silent auction and music festival that went on until the next day.

The bands - which included notable names like Fall from Grace and Aces Up - volunteered their time, which was a huge part of making the event a success, said Brittney Hamilton, the new executive director of Operation Ward 57. "Paying them would have seriously cut into our profit," she said. "But they were all generous and willing to play for a good cause."

The dice run, which was coordinated through Tacoma's Brothers In Arms Motorcycle Club (BIAMC) Puget Sound chapter, raised funds through the suggested donation of $15 per bike.

"I would not mind working with them again in the future," said Jonji Oben, a retired Air Force master sergeant and BIAMC Puget Sound chapter president. "Normally we only donate to the Fisher House, but I was approached about this and thought it was a great cause to ride for."

The dice run had close to 70 bikes out on the road for a 50-mile ride, which yielded $1,600 toward the cause. The other moneymaker came from Rock the Dock's generous owner, Gwen Stence, a self-proclaimed military brat who donated the space for the event and handed over 50 percent of the beer garden's proceeds.

"They did a lot for us when we were there," said Joe Brown, a former Soldier who was a resident of Ward 57 himself after being injured downrange and now volunteers to help the nonprofit organization. "So why not give back now? I think it would be selfish not to."

Including funds from a silent auction, door donations and the beer garden, as well as the dice run donation, Operation Ward 57 was able to raise close to $3,000 of pure profit.  

"This was the first time we put on an event by ourselves," Hamilton said. "But I'd love to make it an annual event moving forward."

Founded in 2006, Operation Ward 57 has grown in the past five years into a reliable support system for wounded Servicemembers who have been assigned to Ward 57 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (an orthopedic ward known as the "amputee ward) and their families. For more information, visit

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