Bikers from across Northwest Indiana united on Sunday for the 19th Annual Victory for Veterans Memorial Ride. Riders paraded, honoring veterans and fallen soldiers in a procession that circled the Region.
Hosted by North Township Trustee Frank J. Mrvan and the American Veterans Motorcycle Riders Association (AMVRA), motorcycle riders gathered in Wicker Memorial Park before setting off on a 27-mile long lap around Hammond, Munster, Highland, Dyer, Schererville, and Griffith. Last year over 2000 bikes and 3000 riders participated, and the procession was nearly as long as the route itself.
“It’s so important to support the veterans,” said Kelly Bridges, Activities Director for North Township and Wicker Park. “They sacrifice basically their whole livelihood to defend our country and to keep us safe. We’re just very grateful to see so many people come out and support the ride.”
Members of just about every major biker club from around the Region turned out in support of the cause. Proceeds from the ride went to help homeless veterans find housing solutions and also to enhance the Wicker Park Veterans Memorial. Many of the riders were former servicemen and women themselves including Julie Dozier, an Army veteran.
“It’s overwhelming to see all the support,” Dozier said. “It’s amazing knowing that the community is there for you, and to see all the other veterans coming out here as well. They’re supporting each other even after getting out of the service. I’m just happy to be here supporting my fellow veterans too.”
Many riders wore lanyards bearing the image and biographies of fallen soldiers during the ride, honoring their service and ensuring that their families know their loved one will not be forgotten.
“There’s a lot of people in this country that give us our freedoms, and we appreciate them as veterans,” said Frank J. Mrvan, North Township Trustee. “We ride for our freedoms, we ride for our veteran community.”
Other riders come from military families, whose parents, children, or other relatives served in conflicts like the war in Afghanistan, Desert Storm, or Vietnam. Marianne Colella and her husband, Bob, have attended the ride a number of times throughout the years, and both have numerous veteran relatives including their late World War II veteran parents.
“I think this is great. Our troops don’t get enough support like this” said Marianne Colella. “It’s so important to me because I grew up in it, and so did my husband. Our parents didn’t tell us all the stories, and we had to read about them in books. I’m glad that the turnout is so great; it shows that they aren’t forgotten and never will be.”
Every year the festivities grow, with new vendors, sponsors, an entertainment jumping in. This year, Hessville Star, featuring all-stars from bands such as the Crawpuppies and Survivor, performed live after the procession. Learn more about the ride at www.victoryforveteranswickerpark.org, and find out about upcoming events at northtownshiptrustee.com.