'It's for the cause, not for the applause'

When recent medical complications cost Korean War veteran Bob Young his leg, the bed-ridden veteran and his wife needed a ramp built to get in and out of their house easier. And as it has done multiple times this year, American Legion Riders Chapter 103 in Ashtabula, Ohio, stepped up.

A group of the Riders recently added a handicapped-accessible ramp to Young’s house, spending five and a half hours over the course of two days building it themselves. It was the fourth time the Riders have built such a ramp for a veteran this year.

Chapter 103 President Harry "Hairball" Godfrey said the Riders went to the Ashtabula County Community Action Agency, which assists families and individuals in the area, earlier this year and said they would be willing to help any veterans in need of assistance. After their first effort, word spread of their ability to help.

“We went over and we put a ramp up for a veteran’s wife – a veteran who had passed,” Godfrey. “We did that, it was on Facebook, and we started to get contacted from individuals that needed help. (This week) I actually got another request. Basically it’s all been word of mouth.”

The materials for the third ramp Chapter 103 built were donated by Home Depot, but the chapter footed the entire bill for Young’s. The money came from rides and fundraisers the Riders have conducted.

“We raise the money for supporting our neighborhood and veterans,” Godfrey said. “It was a $650 ramp. Now, if I would have hired a contractor it was a $3,000 job. And we get to talk to the people. When we can get out and actually do a project where we can meet the people we’re helping … (we) find it more satisfying.

“It’s easy to go out, have a couple runs, earn some money and write a check, and not really knowing how that check is going to be spent. This was different.”

And it made a difference.

"I told (the riders) they were a godsend,” Jeanette Lister, Young’s daughter, told the Star Beacon in Ashtabula. “I was so overwhelmed that they would be willing to do this for my dad. I didn't know if there's anything I can do to thank them for what they're doing."

Godfrey said that no thanks was necessary. “As Riders, we do what we do for the veterans we support,” he said. “It’s for the cause, not the applause."