It didn't matter that it was cool and raining or that it was 9 a.m. on an overcast Saturday morning in Lacey. What mattered most to the more than 70 members of the Brothers in Arms Motorcycle Club (BAMC) who showed up for the Northwest Harley-Davidson's (NWHD) third annual Freedom Ride, was the support military families would receive this holiday season.
The event raised $1.030, and all proceeds collected will benefit Operations Turkey Drop and Ham Grenade on Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Camp Murray sponsored by the Pierce Military Business Alliance and the Capt Meriwether Lewis Chapter of the Association of the United States Army..
"(BAMC) has stepped up to the plate three-years running," said Tina Torfin, guest relations manager at NWHD. "They're an extraordinary group of active-duty, retired and veteran riders who do a lot of charity work, especially concerning Joint Base Lewis-McChord."
NWHD hosted the event in honor of its national military appreciation month. Registration included free doughnuts and coffee and a ride bandana. The pre-ride ceremony began with the national anthem performed by former Air Force Tops and Blues entertainer James Santos, an active-duty senior Airman on McChord. After the two-hour ride from Lacey to the Old Soldiers Home in Orting and back, riders also received a free lunch catered by O'Blarney's Irish Pub.
"(NWHD) is like family the same way all the riders of BAMC are brothers and sisters," said "Hammer," President of BAMC chapter of South Puget Sound and a retired Army Master Sgt. "This (event) is a big deal especially so close to Veterans Day. This is how we show respect and let (Servicemembers) know they're not forgotten and continue to be appreciated. The best part is seeing a guy's face light up when we visit them (at the Old Soldiers Home), and knowing that needy families are also helped this holiday season."
BAMC is a veteran-based club with three chapters in Wash., and is open to anyone who served, including women in the military. "Maniac" is one of two "full-patch" BAMC female members who participated in the Freedom Ride.
"This fundraiser ensures those less fortunate military families have a chance to celebrate Thanksgiving," she said. "Our military kids deserve a happy holiday and this program helps a lot, and what a better way to help than alongside my fellow brothers and sisters who've served."
NWHD will present a check for donations received to the Association of the United States Army, who in turn will provide aid to military families on JBLM and Camp Murray.
"It's hard to put into words what this event means to me (and to us at NWHD)," Torfin said. "(We) respect and love the men and women who serve, and have bid them farewell and welcomed them home post-deployment. We want them to feel appreciated and to let them know they're amazing."