Due to the coronavirus, there was a time this year when American Legion Riders Chapter 259, the state’s first-ever chapter, considered cancelling what was supposed to be its 18th annual Legacy Run. But as restrictions started to lift in New York, the Oneonta chapter was determined to figure out a way to continue to raise money for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund – it’s presented the fund with a $10,000 donation annually for years – as well as the post’s local scholarship program for Otsego County students.
The chapter cancelled three of its five yearly runs but was able to keep its Legacy Run on the schedule, conducting the ride Sept. 12 with 99 motorcycles covering around 100 miles. In preparing to do so, its members also created a set of guidelines for conducting such a ride in the time of COVID-19 that it’s sharing with other ALR chapters.
Sons of The American Legion Squadron 259 member Chris Chase, ALR Chapter 259’s assistant director and the assistant director for New York’s District 5 and 6 American Legion Riders, put up a blog post on the chapter’s website to promote safe practices for all of the riders participating in their Legacy Run.
In his blog post, Chase wrote that “When planning for your motorcycle run it’s important to have a game plan in place to ensure you are keeping the health of all of those that will be participating in mind.” He provided a series of suggestions to keep both participants and volunteers safe that included:
• Temperature checks;
• Limiting gathering size;
• Social distancing;
• Encouraging and providing masks;
• Encouraging online registration with tips on how to conduct onsite registration;
• Providing sanitizer; and
• Tips for safely fundraising.
“Because I’m the assistant director for (Districts) 5 and 6, I was hoping to help the (chapters) that I manage still be able to pull off their runs,” Chase said. “And statewide and nationwide, I was hoping it would take off and anybody who could get use out of it would be able to put their runs on. That’s really why we did it.”
The guidelines in the blog post were the ones Chapter 259 followed during its ride. “That’s why we wrote the blog post for, so that it was basically sticking to those guidelines,” Chase said. “We did our best to take everybody’s temperature when they got onsite, make sure they had a mask, make sure they registered with a mask and kept their distancing while registering.”
Chase said the final numbers from the Legacy Run are still being tallied, but he believes it’s around $3,000 – despite this year’s event being scaled back because of the pandemic. In addition to going toward the Legacy Fund and local scholarships, Chase said proceeds from this year’s ride also will go toward local businesses that have supported the effort in the past and were impacted by the pandemic this year.
“This year, because of COVID, it sat funny with us going around to bug all of our typical sponsors for money,” Chase said. “So instead, we’re taking some of our own funds and we’re donating back to our sponsors. It’s just giving back to our sponsors that have supported us every year.”
Staging the chapter’s Legacy Run in the midst of a pandemic happening was “to honor the people who have lost their lives from the events of 9/11,” Chase said. “We were attacked. We had to go to war over it. And the kids that lost their parents … we just feel the (Legacy) Fund is a good cause to support.”
Chase, who owns a marketing company, has made marketing the Legion Riders a side project. In addition to creating a video about his chapter’s Legacy Run, he’s also created a recruitment video that is customizable and available to ALR chapters to use as a tool to encourage new members to join. More information is available here.
Maryland Legion Riders Delayed, Not Deterred. The coronavirus postponed the fifth annual Maryland Gold Star Legacy Run in June, but members of the Maryland American Legion Family came together Sept. 11-13 to complete their fundraising effort.
With around 40 participants, the ride made stops at six American Legion posts and two Gold Star memorials over three days, covering more than 500 miles. Participants included riders from Indiana, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The Gold Star Legacy Run has raised more than $100,000 for Legacy fund since 2018; Past National Sons of The American Legion Commander Joe Gladden, co-chair of the ride, said “while we are still tallying the numbers, we are expecting to have a great year considering what our Legion Family has gone through this year. It’s looking like we will hit $40,000.”
Gladden said the plan is for a group of Maryland Legion Riders to ride to North Carolina on Oct. 2 to present the funds on behalf of the Department of Maryland to National Commander Bill Oxford, who will be participating in the North Carolina Legacy Run.