For 12 years, a group of American Legion Riders from Post 737 in Lake Milton, Ohio, has ridden more than 330 miles each way to hand-deliver donation checks for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund at the Legion’s National Headquarters in Indianapolis, Ind.
Mailing the donations would be easier. But it would also defeat the purpose of the donation, which goes to provide college scholarships for the children of U.S. military personnel killed on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, as well as children of post-9/11 veterans with a combined VA disability rating of 50 percent or higher.
“It’s personal. We take it to heart to make it personal,” ALR Chapter 737 Chaplain John Chittock said. “It’s for the kids. It’s always for the kids.
“But when you get a piece of mail in the mail, you open it up and it’s (not a big deal). When someone delivers it to you, gives it to you, and they take the time to deliver that, that means more.”
Chittock and fellow Chapter 737 Riders John Wylie and Ralph Oyster made this year’s trip to Indianapolis on Aug. 7, bringing with them checks totaling $12,695.
The donation was given to American Legion National Adjutant Daniel S. Wheeler. “You’ve got a lot of kids who will appreciate that,” Wheeler said.
This year, donations came from Post 737, as well as fellow Ohio Posts 76, 166, 281, 331, 719, 601, 700, 151, 112 and 103. The chapter also got a $100 donation from a small group of Legion Riders from Chapter 82 in Carnegie, Pa., who they happened to meet while on a donation collection ride.
“We were up in Conneaut, Ohio, and I was telling the people about how many (scholarships) were awarded, how much we collected last year and everything,” Chittock said. “These three guys were sitting there, and they said ‘come over here.’ They asked us what we were doing, and then they sat down and wrote us a check for $100.”
Since starting the tradition of collecting donations with a donation of $995 in 2007, Chapter 737’s Riders have brought more than $79,000 to National Headquarters. Chittock said they make sure that any post that donates receives the proper thank you.
“We give them our own letter thanking them, telling them how many scholarships were awarded, how much money was awarded, how much money we took to (National Headquarters) and the total collected (from The American Legion Legacy Run),” Chittock said. “And then we hand-deliver it to every place we collected from. These people look forward to that.”