At Kenneth N. Dowden Wayne Post 64 in Indianapolis on Saturday night, Sons of The American Legion National Commander Joe Gladden providing the perfect example of what more than 600 participants in this year’s Legacy Run are riding for: now-famous Gold Star son Myles Eckert who found a $20 bill in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel, wrapped it in a note and handed it to an Air National Guardsman.
Gladden called Myles “the face of The American Legion Legacy Fund,” referencing the scholarship program for the children of fallen U.S. servicemembers that the Legacy Run has raised more than $4 million for in eight previous Legacy Runs. The SAL national commander then put his money where his mouth was, presenting American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger with checks totaling more than $50,000 – including $25,000 from the SAL Detachment of Maryland and $25,000 that Gladden has raised on his own selling his coins, shirts and other items.
“This was … one person at a time talking about the Legacy (Fund) and people seeing how important it was,” Gladden said. “Together, one person can make a difference. All of you helped make that difference.”
It kicked off a strong night of donations during the annual Legacy Run opening-night ceremonies. By the time the last check was presented to Dellinger, more than $121,000 had been donated. “We haven’t driven one mile yet,” Dellinger said. “That really gave me chills.”
Dellinger praised the work the Riders do “for those who have given their life in defense of our great county, that their children will have the opportunity – thanks to you – that they normally would not get.”
The goal of this year’s USAA-sponsored Run, which leaves Indianapolis at 8 a.m. today, is $450,000. Post 64 Commander Kenny Hoffman announced that the post would be donating at least $20,000 to the Legacy Fund during the national convention in Charlotte, N.C. The post raffled off a guitar signed by members of the band ZZ Top to raise the funds.
Hoffman praised the post’s membership for not only helping raise the money, but also preparing for and hosting the pre-Run event. “Without all their help, I can’t do this,” he said. “So I give them praise way before me. They’ll bend over backwards to make this a friendly post. We’re a very proud post, and honored, to have the Legacy Run start here.”