When American Legion Rider Debbie Bickel, a road captain on the annual Legacy Run, was approached by National Legion Riders Staff Liaison Bill Sloan about taking part in a cross-country motorcycle ride with William Shatner, Bickel reacted accordingly.
“I was flabbergasted,” said Bickel, a member of Post 97 in Auburn, Ind. “I was like, ‘Are you serious? Are you joking with me? And he was like, ‘Nope, it’s the real deal.’”
Sloan wasn’t joking, and on June 23, Shatner, Bickel, Sloan and fellow Legion Rider Rodney Herring left Chicago with a production crew on the Rivet Ride. Since leaving the Windy City, they’ve driven through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico before stopping for the night in Flagstaff, Ariz., on June 28. Along the way have been stops at historical spots, Legion posts and Whiteman Air Force Base. Legion Riders from throughout the country have provided an escort along much of the journey.
And along the way, they’ve raised awareness, and money, for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund, which provides college scholarships to the children of servicemembers killed in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001.
Herring, a member of Post 116 in Port Saint Joe, Fla., and a Rider at Post 392 in Panama City, said raising that awareness is what deeply appealed to him about the ride. “It was going to help us get some notice out in the public, and that’s near and dear to me,” said Herring, who has rode more than 2,000 miles on his motorcycle since leaving Florida to take part in the ride. “It’s a great cause.”
Like Bickel, Herring was surprised when Sloan approached him about the opportunity. “To be honest with you, I thought he was kidding,” Herring said. Saying that while he’s not a “Trekkie” but did enjoy watching “Star Trek," Herring has seen firsthand how beloved Shatner is.
“They flock to him,” Herring said. “More so than I realized, he’s an American icon. (People) recognize him, they flock to him.”
Herring said he has been impressed with Shatner’s performance on the ride. “He’s tough for an 84-year-old man. I’m 68, and every day I think, ‘I hope I’m half that strong when I’m 84.’”
Herring said the support from other Legion Riders along the way has been phenomenal. That escort in Arizona also included the Navajo-Hopi Honor Riders, who provide escort services for homecomings, celebrations, deployments, memorials and funerals for Native American servicemembers and veterans.
Department of Arizona Adjutant Angel Juarez was at the stop in Flagstaff. “I mentioned to Mr. Shatner earlier when I met him how grateful that we are that he included The American Legion in this project,” he said. “He could have easily chosen any other avenue to showcase his ride. I’m really happy that he chose to include posts along the route. The idea that he was able to come here and be a part of this is really important for our organization.”
To read about the start of the journey, click here.
To hear from Shatner about the ride and why he’s doing it, click here.