Legion Riders present checks for the American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund during The American Legion's 99th annual National Convention in Reno, Calif., on Tuesday, August 22, 2017. Photo by Clay Lomneth/The American Legion.

Legacy Run donations top $1.2 million

The American Legion Riders came into Reno, Nev., having ridden more than 1,400 miles from Dodge City, Kan., and raised more than $555,000 for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund. But the Riders were far from done.

After another successful Legacy Run, the Legion Riders and American Legion departments donated more than $667,000 on The American Legion National Convention floor Aug. 22. That brought this year’s Legacy Run total to a ride record $1,224,653 – the fourth straight year the ride has raised more than $1 million.

The American Legion Department of Minnesota led the way, donating $200,000 on the national convention floor. Other top department donations on Tuesday were the departments of Missouri ($78,241), Wisconsin ($67,627), South Carolina ($67,056) and Ohio ($50,000).

American Legion Post 133 (Millbrook, Ala.) donated $15,133, while the Legion Riders from Stevens-Christian Post 557 in Wintersville, Ohio, contributed $13,500.

“A far-flung motto used by the Legion Riders is ‘Legion first,’” said Legacy Run Chief Road Captain Bob Sussan, who also serves as chairman of the American Legion Riders Advisory Committee. “Many departments have in-state Legacy (Runs) to raise funds for the scholarship. Several years ago The American Legion Riders in the Department of Florida, on their in-state Legacy Run, noticed a sign on the wall. This is the expression on the wall … and many Riders chapters had adopted this saying: ‘For the cause, not for the applause.’”

The six-day Legacy Run, sponsored by USAA, drove through Kansas, Colorado and Utah before finishing up in Reno. More than 200 motorcycles completed the ride.

This year’s ride was dedicated to longtime Chief Road Guard Verlin Abbott, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in Indianapolis a week before the Run left Kansas.

“This year was bittersweet,” Sussan said. “This was Verlin’s ride. He was my best friend, my right hand, and as I feel as though I’ve lost a part of me, he’s gone but never forgotten. He will always ride with us.”

The Legacy Fund provides college money for the children of U.S. military personnel killed on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, as well as children of post-9/11 veterans with a combined VA disability rating of 50 percent or higher. In 12 years, the Legacy Run has now raised more than $8 million.