Proceeds will help veteran organizations and first responders
by Carrie Steinweg
LANSING, Ill. (August 16, 2019) – The parking lot at American Legion Post 697 was filled Saturday morning, August 10, with motorcycles ready to head out for the American Legion Riders’ 6th Annual Ride and Benefit. According to Legion Riders President Nick Grigutis, the proceeds from the event would go toward helping veteran organizations and first responders. “We do other good things in the community, but all the money raised today goes to that,” he said. “We’re happy with the turnout and looking forward to a fun-filled day.”
Close to 100 riders were expected to take part in the event. At least 60 were ready to leave the American Legion post that morning, with more joining the ride along the way at one of the other stops of the day—Jack’s in Schneider, Indiana; Sit N’ Bull in Beecher, Illinois; and Bank Shots in Lynwood, Illinois. Following the ride, participants and supporters gathered back at the American Legion for food and drink, raffles, and a silent auction.
Motorcyclists from other organizations in the area showed up to support the efforts, including the Renegade Pigs, Eagle Riders, American Veteran Motorcycle Riders Association, and individual riders from other local posts. There were also riders coming from as far as Indianapolis to return the favor after several of Lansing’s Legion Riders participated in a ride last month to benefit the Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis.
Bill Altgilbers, who serves as the American Legion Riders Treasurer, was happy to see how many people came out to participate. “It’s a great cause and really helps out our community,” he said. “We support organizations in Illinois and Indiana, and a lot of veterans are supporters.”
Jim Bushor has been a rider at this benefit for five of the six years that the ride has taken place. “I’m just here help our veterans and to help support our community,” he said.
A police escort was waiting to get the 90-mile ride started. Grigutis gave a brief introduction before the Legion Riders Chaplain, Seamus McLaughlin, led the group in prayer. McLaughlin is a charter member of the organization and he also served as a past commander of American Legion Post 697. He’s a U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Vietnam War.
Village Trustee Maureen Grady-Perovich was also there with her German Shepherd, Pas, for the send-off. She was outfitted in a leather vest given to her by the group in appreciation for her support. “Our Legion Riders are so supportive of the village and we’re lucky to have them,” she said.
Besides this yearly event, the organization also hosts other rides to raise funds as well as presenting colors and setting up flag lines and memorial events and funerals. “We give donations to veterans and veteran organizations and do anything we can for our veterans,” said McLaughlin. “We’re not a riding club, but a non-profit through the American Legion, and we raise thousands each year for veterans and veteran homes.”