Fundraising and unity on the back of a bike

Six years ago American Legion Rider Mike Kirchoff started an in-state Legacy Run in the Department of Florida to help raise money for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund. In that time, Florida has been able to raise well above $100,000 in donations for the Legacy Fund.

Another in-state Legacy Run is planned for Florida this year. But it’s changed up a bit.

The 2018 Unity Ride, which it’s named, will include American Legion Riders from all over the country and will traverse through Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Kirchoff, a member of the National Legion Riders Advisory Committee, is retiring from the in-state Legacy Run this year. The Unity Ride serves as sort of a tribute to the longtime Legion Rider.

“We wanted to keep his legacy with the in-state Legacy Run,” Department of Florida Legion Riders Adjutant Jennifer Day said. “We’ve done it so many times in Florida that we’ve basically covered almost every post and every road in Florida. A lot of the people who do it every single year wanted to do something a little different. I said, ‘Well, we can take it into a different state. (ALR State Chairman Jim Day) said, ‘Let’s do something and bring all the states together.’ And then it just kind of grew from there.”

The ride departs American Legion Post 54 in Fernandina Beach, Fla., on April 6 and will finish up April 15 at Post 392 in Panama City Beach, Fla. Along the way, the Unity Ride will make a stop in Andersonville, Ga., for a Korean War remembrance, along a portion of the Natchez Trace into Louisiana, lay a wreath at a national cemetery and make a stop at the USS Alabama. All told, the Unity Ride will traverse around 1,700 miles.

Planning started last April, with the hope the ride will serve multiple purposes. “We’re trying to build it where it’s getting out there promoting the Legion, promoting the Riders and all the things we have going on,” Jennifer said. “But it’s also giving people who are taking a week’s vacation – and spending a week’s vacation’s money – a chance to actually have a vacation. It’s a fundraiser. It’s a vacation. It’s unity.”

For more information about the Unity Ride, click here.