By Mary O’KEEFE
Avery special motorcycle trip is being planned for July 27 from Southern California to Sturgis, South Dakota. Organizers hope the inaugural Veterans Charity “Ride to Sturgis” is the beginning of a tradition that will give veterans a chance to feel the freedom of the road and to bond again as a “band of brothers/sisters.”
“My good friend Indian Dave approached me with an idea. He wanted to take a bunch of [veterans] to Sturgis,” said Robert Manciero, director/producer Full Vision Productions and a member of the Veterans Charity ride organization. Dave has been riding motorcycles for almost 50 years and is a veteran Army paratrooper.
The two men contacted the Indian Motorcycle Company and “pounded and hounded” them. The company said it would support their effort and donated all the motorcycles that will be driven by the veterans.
Since this is their first year of having the ride, Manciero said they were only going to take eight veterans, all of whom are wounded warriors. But the response was so great that they now have 14 riders. Some are amputees and would find it difficult to ride a motorcycle. To solve that issue, Manciero and Dave contacted Champion Side Cars to attach side cars to the motorcycles which the company agreed to do.
Veteran and Glendale resident Jorge Hernandez will be driving a motorcycle to Sturgis. Hernandez served as a U.S. Marine for 12 years. He served in several countries and bases including deployments in Iraq.
He was also wounded.
“I got injured,” he said. “You push through it.”
He has been shot, had fractured bones and had a traumatic brain injury. Finally it was time for him to retire.
“If I had my choice I would have stayed in the Marine [Corps],” he said.
But the injuries added up and he took a medical retirement. He is currently going to Pasadena City College studying business.
“I want to open my own business and to continue to help [veterans],” Hernandez said. “I would [like to] build houses for vets who are coming out [of service].”
Hernandez has been riding motorcycles for years and is happy that he was contacted to join the Sturgis trip.
A fellow U.S. Marine, David Maxwell, gave Hernandez’s name to Manciero. Maxwell participated in a similar organization in Idaho.
“He gave my name to Dave and Bob [Robert Manciero] and I got a call,” he said.
The ride will include other veterans on their motorcycles and a support group with cars. Manciero’s film company will cover the ride from beginning to end and will release the finished film in the fall.
In addition to having a great time riding together, the trip is also an opportunity to bring awareness to veterans that there are many services and organizations ready to support them.
“Many of our wounded and injured brothers and sisters who have served so courageously need a helping hand to transition back to civilian life and become proud members and leaders in our communities. We want to use this ride and campaign as a platform to inform and connect veterans to the resources they need and encourage the general public to support those much needed resources,” according to www.veteranscharityride.org.
Manciero and Hernandez will be at the Glendale car show Cruise Night this Saturday and invite all to stop by and find out about the “Ride to Sturgis.”
For more information or to donate, visit veteranscharityride.org.