Legion Riders in Ohio honor Legionnaires, support children of veterans

American Legion Riders of Stevens-Christian Memorial Chapter 557 in Wintersville, Ohio, wanted to both honor Legionnaires and raise money for the Legion’s Legacy Scholarship Fund, a program so “near and dear to the very heart of the American Legion Riders,” said Mike Petrisko, Chapter 557 Legion Riders director.

The Riders created an event that successfully accomplished both.

The Ohio Veterans’ Memorial Park in Clinton is just shy of two hours from Post 557. The park allows for the purchase of memorial pavers to honor veterans, and they are installed in the park’s walkways for all to see.

In 2015, the Riders decided to purchase four pavers in the name of Post 557 members who passed away the year prior. And on Armed Forces Day (third Saturday in May) of that year, they conducted their first ever Memorial Brick Run where they escorted the pavers from the post to the park, hosted a ceremony at the park and then returned to the post for a spaghetti dinner and entertainment, 50/50 raffle and more.

In its first year the Memorial Brick Run raised $3,000 for the Legacy Scholarship through individual registration fees of $15, or $10 for dinner only, as well as sponsorships from community businesses and T-shirt sales (photo above). And the growth has continued.

In 2016, the memorial run raised $6,000 and this past May it raised $13,500 for the Legacy Fund. And in total, 38 memorial bricks have been purchased and laid to honor Legionnaires and other individuals.

This is “thanks to so much support and our group’s dedication,” Petrisko said. “Our group, of course, is made up of Legionnaires, Sons of The American Legion and Auxiliary members, and each of us consider it an honor to be a part of this effort.”

Petrisko said that the Memorial Brick Run has become Post 557’s largest event of the year.

“We help to support this wonderful park, honor our veterans and still raise funds to donate to the Legacy Scholarship,” he said. “We are all dedicated to the idea that we raise a lot of money, we have a lot of fun doing it and we give it all away.”

The Legacy Scholarship provides college money for the children of U.S. military personnel killed on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, as well as for children of post-9/11 veterans with a combined VA disability rating of 50 percent or higher. Legion Riders are strong supporters of the fund, through their annual Legacy Run that has helped raised more than $8 million in its 12 years.

The 2018 Legacy Scholarship application will be available Nov. 15 online at www.legion.org/scholarships/legacy for new and returning applicants to fill out. The needs-base scholarship will award up to $20,000 for graduate or post-graduate expenses.