More than 400 motorcyclists blazed through Carroll County Wednesday afternoon on the final leg of their ride from Indianapolis, Ind., to Towson. They weren't participating in a big-budget remake of Roger Corman's motorcycle classic "The Wild Angels," but rather were raising money to support the children of U.S. military personnel killed in the line of duty.

The bikers, members of the American Legion Riders, were participating in the 10th annual Legacy Run, a four-day event that takes participants from the American Legion's headquarters in Indianapolis to the site of the organization's annual national convention, held this year in Baltimore.

Advertisement

Michael Jankowski, director of the American Legion Riders at Sykesville Post 223, joined caravan of bikers in Gettysburg, Pa., for the last leg of their drive, leaving from the Gettysburg American Legion post in the afternoon. Jankowski, who served in the Air Force from 1985 to 2006, said it was hugely satisfying to see the support the Legion Riders garnered during their trip.

"It was outstanding. There were people from children to the middle-aged to the elderly lining the roads and waving flags and greeting us throughout the trip," Jankowski said. "Since 9/11, there has been a reawakening of the importance of the military and the sacrifices that have been given. It's so important to have their service acknowledged."

The riders were raising money for the Legacy Scholarship Fund, which provides money for children whose parents have been killed while serving in the military. Fred Hofferbert, commander at the Towson Post 22, where the riders concluded their trip, said each year the organization has managed to raise more money than the previous.

"Last year we raised more than $1 million," Hofferbert said. "Each year it keeps getting bigger and better, and we're turning the scholarship fund into something really valuable for students."

In addition to the money raised for the scholarship fund, Jankowski said the ride was a valuable tool to raise awareness for the American Legion itself, as riders make their way through communities across America. He said about 40 Carroll County riders participated in the event.

"All visibility for veterans causes is valuable," Jankowski said. "If we can make people aware of what we do, and the things we stand for, that's important."

Themis Smyrnioudis, assistant director of the Post 223 American Riders, wasn't able to take part in the ride but said he will aid with the American Riders' events throughout the second half of the week. Smyrnioudis said that because people are coming from all over the United States, the American Riders have planned a number of local activities to get to know the area.

The riders reached Towson at about 4 p.m. Wednesday, kicking off several days of Legion events surrounding the national convention, from tours of Baltimore to a trip to Fort McHenry, where riders are to be offered the rare opportunity to raise the flag, Jankowski said.

Hofferbert said it was an honor to host the end of the Legacy Run at the Towson post.

"We've been preparing for a while, getting the place cleaned up," Hofferbert said. "We're like anybody else. You let things sit too long in the corner and it gets a little messy. Everybody pitched in, not just with the cleaning but with the planning."

Each state sends delegates to the American Legion's national convention, which is held in a different location every year. The convention this year will feature speeches from Department of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, and Medal of Honor recipient Ryan Pitts, among others.

410-857-7890

Twitter.com/Jacob_deNobel

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement