Larry Bahr traveled on motorcycle from Breckenridge on Wednesday with a plan to join the American Legion Legacy Run on its final leg from Brainerd to Minneapolis.
He joined several others at the corner of South Eighth and Front streets waiting in anticipation for the pack of motorcycle riders in the run’s leg from Duluth to Brainerd.
The Legacy Run started Sunday in Indianapolis and had stops in Mt. Pleasant, Mich.; St. Ignace, Mich.; and Minocqua, Wis.; before reaching Duluth. The goal behind the American Legion Legacy Run is to raise money for higher education scholarships for the children of military personnel who have died in active duty since Sept. 11, 2001.
“As long as there are wars going on the Legacy Fund will keep going,” Bahr said. “There’s never been a scholarship deal like this. We’ve always taken care of veterans, helping them with school. This is first time we’ve come up with a deal to help their kids. A lot of time they don’t get any help from the government.”
Due to arrive at about 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the Legacy Run caravan was about an hour late, but with good reason. As one rider noted, there is no quick way to fuel several hundred motorcycles at a two-pump gas station. Imagine what a bathroom break would be like, he added.
There was no mistaking when the Legacy Run entered Brainerd as hundreds of motorcycles rumbled down Washington Street, onto South Eighth Street and packed onto Front Street in front the American Legion Club.
Traveling with the hundreds of motorcyclists — one estimate from an American Legion official put the number at close to 400 — was Jimmie Foster, national commander of the American Legion.
Foster said the riders have been well received everywhere, with people lining up on roads and on overpasses, waving flags, banners and “hooting and hollering.”
“Anything we can do to enhance the lives of a child who lost their mother or dad while on active duty since 9/11, 2001, that’s what its all about,” Foster said. “We take care of our own, whether they’re veterans, active duty or their dependents. They’re already at a loss, they’ve already lost one of their breadwinners, and anything we can do to enhance, move them along in society, we do.”
In its sixth year, the American Legion Legacy Run has a goal of raising $470,000 in 2011. Terry Metzger, Brainerd American Legion Post manager, said the group hopes to exceed that goal by more than $100,000 this year and overall has raised more than $2 million for scholarships.
“It’s a big honor to be a stop” for the Legacy run, Metzger said. “We’re thrilled.”
The Brainerd American Legion welcomed motorcyclists with a spaghetti and meat ball dinner, served by the club’s executive board.
Brainerd American Legion Post Commander Chris Spieker echoed Metzger’s appreciation on having the Legacy Run stop in Brainerd.
“They didn’t hit too many American Legions, so to have them here is very nice,” Spieker said.
Tom Mowbray of Lynchberg, Tenn., and several others pulled into the American Legion ahead of the main pack from Duluth. Mowbray has traveled 1,600 miles since Saturday to be a part of the Legacy Run.
“Oh, this is for a good cause, for the kids and their college,” Mowbray said. “It really is a good cause. That’s what it’s all about, the kids. It’s nothing about us. This is a good way to raise money.”
James DePiazza left The Colony, Texas, at 4:45 a.m. Tuesday and arrived in Fargo about 9:45 p.m. Tuesday. DePiazza said a young man from his town was killed while on active duty in 2009, and he often participates in memorials and fundraisers for the families of those who have died serving the country.
This will be DePiazza’s fourth year riding in the American Legion Legacy Run.
“My goal every year is to at least get one of the legs in,” DePiazza said.
On Sunday the riders will lead the 93rd annual National American Legion Convention Parade, with assembly taking place at Richfield American Legion Post No. 435. A small delegation of American Legion riders will present national donations for the American Legion Legacy Scholarship to Foster at the national convention.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.