(Photo courtesy ALR Chapter 2008)

Helping one of their own

Frank Serrano helped start The American Legion Riders chapter at Post 2008 in Colorado Springs, so he’s seen firsthand how the Riders can come together for others in times of need.

So Serrano wasn’t totally surprised when he saw four Riders chapters in the Colorado Springs area raise more than $4,200 in a matter of days for a Desert Storm Army veteran whose house in Fountain, Colo., burned to the ground in February.

“I guess you could say that I’m shocked, but not really that shocked,” said Serrano, Chapter 2008’s president. “I’ve seen our people in action. When they put their mind to something, they can accomplish just about anything.”

On Feb. 28, what was believed to be an overturned space heater reduced veteran Robert Dickinson’s home to ash, killing his three dogs in the process. Media coverage made Riders in the area aware of Dickinson’s situation.

“The presidents and vice presidents of the chapters in our area got together, and we thought this was something we should rally together to do,” Serrano said. “We said, ‘What can we do for this guy?’ We decided to pass the hat within our own organization.”

Tom Abernethy, a 28-year-old Army veteran and sergeant-at-arms at Riders Chapter 5 in Colorado Springs, said within four days $4,250 was raised. He also wasn’t too surprised by their charity.

“I watched the Riders coming up in Colorado; my uncle was part of the process of getting them started here,” Abernethy said. “I think what we did this time, that’s kind of the norm for what we do. We say we’re veterans helping veterans, and this was really putting our money where our mouth is.”

The Riders from chapters 2008 and 5 joined Riders from Neal Thomas Jr. Post 209 in Colorado Springs and Edward D. Ballard Security Post 38 in Fountain in the effort. A group of 79 motorcycles and 102 Legion Riders met at Post 38 on March 12 and rode together to the parking lot at Pikes Peak International Raceway to deliver the money to Dickinson.

“There were tears,” Abernethy said. “It was real emotional for him. Like every veteran, he’s got a lot of pride, and I don’t think he asked for help. But we had to help him.”

Serrano said Dickinson “was pretty humbled. He looked at me and said, ‘This is going to be emotional, isn’t it?’ He didn’t expect it. He was really shocked.”

Serrano said the Colorado Springs-area Riders, numbering around 200, work well together to help others. “It’s always amazing, and a little shocking, to see how giving they are,” he said. “When you put a mission in front of them, they just do it. Sometimes it just blows me away.”

For more photos of the ride and donation, click here and here.