Hundreds of motorcyclists will take the concept of "veterans helping veterans" to a new level this month when The American Legion Riders kick off their eighth annual American Legion Legacy Run to raise money for the American Legion Legacy Scholarship program.
National Commander James E. Koutz will lead the American Legion Legacy Run from The American Legion national headquarters in Indianapolis to the 95th annual American Legion National Convention in Houston in August.
Motorcycle enthusiasts and supporters from all over the world will join in a rally Aug. 17 hosted by The American Legion Riders of Indiana to raise money for scholarships, which are awarded to the children of military members who have died on duty since Sept. 11, 2001. Sponsored by USAA®, The Legacy Run is the largest multistate, multiday cross-country motorcycle event in the United States.
The Riders will begin the 1,500-mile journey early Aug. 18 and travel through Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. They will arrive in Houston on the afternoon of Aug. 22.
According to Koutz, the American Legion Legacy Scholarship is one way to show the Riders' deep appreciation for those who paid the ultimate price for freedom.
"As a consequence of the war on terrorism, many children of our active-duty military personnel are now members of single-parent families," Koutz said. "In many cases their chances to attend college have greatly diminished. These children are entitled to receive some money from the government for education, but it is not nearly enough.
"A chance to attend higher education should be a reality for these families," Koutz said. "An education is a powerful way to show our thanks."
Koutz encourages Riders from all points in the United States to join the Run either in Indianapolis or along the route to Houston.
"The ride will stop along the way for events arranged by Legionnaires and Legion Riders chapters along the route," Koutz said. Plans include visits with wounded warriors, lunches and dinners hosted by local American Legion posts and a special visit with USAA dignitaries and injured warriors in Killeen, Texas.
American Legion Riders along the route play an important role planning rest stops, coordinating with law enforcement and helping with the logistics at a dozen or more refueling stops. Any person interested in registering to support the ride will receive the Run patch as well as a special mapbook with Rider travel information to include exact routes, scheduled stops, timetables, daily maps and checkpoint locations.
Koutz will personally collect donations during the Run at promotional events along the way. Upon arrival in Houston, the Riders will enjoy Texas hospitality at American Legion Post 554 in League City, Texas, before leading the National Convention Parade on August 25. The parade through downtown Houston will showcase many of The American Legion dignitaries, delegates and award recipients who will appear during the convention.
Koutz is also asking American Legion posts and Riders from all over the country to conduct a national fundraising effort on behalf of The American Legacy Scholarship Fund. Materials and information tailored specifically for Rider fundraising are available from The American Legion at the contact listed below.
Registration information is available at www.legion.org/riders . All who register will receive the Legacy Run map book, vest patch and other material. Koutz encourages all interested supporters to register, whether or not they wish to participate in the Legacy Run itself.
The registration fees will help offset the costs of the American Legion Legacy Run. Every dollar donated directly to the American Legacy Scholarship Fund will go directly to educating a fallen comrade's son or daughter.