American Legion Riders have helped raise millions and millions of dollars for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund, through both the national Legacy Run, and in-state, district and post rides.
But National American Legion Advisory Committee Chairman Mark Clark doesn’t want the Riders labeled as “a one-trick pony.” Clark’s own American Legion Riders chapter, Tirey J. Ford American Legion Post 21 in Independence, Mo., backed up that claim recently, raising $1,500 for The American Legion Veterans & Children Foundation. The chapter staged a five-hour 100 Miles for Hope group ride that included its own Legion Riders, as well as others from Matthews-Crawford Chapter 131 in Warrensburg, Mo.
“(American Legion Riders) raise hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for local and state charities, as well as American Legion charities,” Clark said. “You’ve got chapters around the country raising money for Operation Comfort Warriors, raising funds to support Legion Baseball, in this case raising funds for the Veterans & Children Foundation.
“The American Legion Riders are always looking to make a difference in their community and within the American Legion Family. So this is a really good example of it. And we’re not the only ones doing it. There are other Riders out there who have joined the challenge, other chapters out there that have joined the challenge. It’s really fun for me to watch. But I think it’s important for people to know that the American Legion Riders do so much more than raise money for (the Legacy Fund). Certainly that’s our passion, and we’re always going to do that. But the Riders touch so many other American Legion charities and other American Legion-related activities.”
In June, a special challenge within The American Legion 100 Miles for Hope was created for American Legion Riders chapters and individuals, with tiered levels of challenges.
“Once the 100 Miles for Hope ALR challenge was out there, I told the Department of Missouri Riders, ‘Hey, look, this is out there. If you guys want to jump in and play that’d be awesome,’” said Clark, who serves as assistant director for Chapter 21. “I wasn’t even at the (ALR Chapter 21) meeting because I was doing something else for the Legion, and my chapter voted to do the maximum $1,500 level. We just set up a ride to go out and have a good day together, have a nice meal together, ride through some beautiful country and make that part of the 100 Miles for Hope Challenge.
“We felt if we can max that out at $1,500, we’ll just challenge all the other chapters around the department and around the country to do the same. That’s kind of where it came from: our chapter said, ‘We’ve got the resources to do this. Let’s let everyone know 21’s on the map.”
Clark said he wasn’t surprised that American Legion Riders from Chapter 131 participated in the ride. “They’re like us. 131 and 12 are the two most active chapters on this side of the state,” he said. “They get out and do a heck of a lot. They’re on our Facebook page. They see what we’re doing. We go ride with them and they come ride with us.”