Feb. 26, 2007

Benefit planned in Delano for Help on the Homefront

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

A local man has been helping organize a benefit for a cause very close to his heart – Help on the Homefront.

Darin Orr became a member of the Minnesota Patriot Guard in July 2006, when he read an article profiling the national patriot guard organization. The benefit will take place Saturday, March 3 at the Delano American Legion, featuring food, live music, and a silent auction, with a portion of proceeds going toward Help on the Homefront.

The organization is a group of motorcycle riders and non-riders who have respect for those who risk their lives every day, whether on American soil or abroad, in securing freedoms and liberties.

The group’s main focus is to attend the funeral services for fallen soldiers, as invited guests of the family. The trips they make are called “missions.”

In doing this, it shows respect and honor to fallen soldiers, along with showing support to their families and communities, as well as ensuring an atmosphere of dignity and respect for those in mourning.

Orr said he read an article about a service the patriot guard attended, and said he was so moved by the article, that he gave it to his wife, Cyndi, who also read it, and immediately said to him, “This is something you have to do, isn’t it?”

Orr’s first mission was a funeral in Willmar for a fallen soldier. Orr said people who were traveling from the Twin Cities area met him in Delano at the American Legion, and they continued west to Willmar for the service.

“I started riding when I was a kid on dirtbikes back in Arizona,” Orr said. He eventually got his first street bike, which he said was a combination of about three different motorcycles.

Since the funeral in Willmar, Orr has been on five other missions, including to Waseca, Maple Grove, Maplewood, Beardsley, and Pelican Rapids.

He said at the service in Beardsley, the temperature was about 17 degrees, and said it was a cold, windy day. When the Patriot Guard arrived, he said, the wind just stopped.

“It was just like somebody flipped a switch,” Orr said “It was very eerie, actually.”

Orr said he also made a point to be at the mission in Pelican Rapids, due to distant family ties to the fallen soldier.

“We look at it as it’s not about the Patroit Guard, it’s about supporting the soldiers and their families,” Orr said. He said every member of the Patriot Guard is a part of it for different reasons, but stressed that each member’s reasons are respected, and that beliefs aren’t forced upon others.

Along with being present at funerals, Orr said the organization has also played bingo with veterans, visited homes, and “reminds people they’re not forgotten.”

“What’s harder? Dying for your country, or being injured, and never being visited?” Orr commented. “They made sacrifices that most people would never make. They weren’t asked to do it. They just did it.”

He said when he was growing up in the Vietnam era as a child, he didn’t have a full comprehension of what was happening with the soldiers who were returning home, but said some of the things he saw left a bad taste in his mouth.

Orr said one difference he sees today, is that people don’t attack the soldiers; they may not be in support of the war, but they do support the soldiers.

“The Patriot Guard travels to support the soldiers,” he said. “Whether you agree with the war or not, there’s no political agenda here, it’s just what we can do for them.”

The Patriot Guard Riders were started in August 2005 when members of the American Legion Riders Chapter 136 from Kansas were appalled that a fallen soldier’s memory was being tarnished by protestors at funerals throughout the country.

The Minnesota Patriot Guard is a supportive arm of the Patriot Guard Riders, and is recognized as a tax-free charity. It’s not a motorcycle club, but rather, a volunteer organization.

The group works closely with local law enforcement, family representatives, and military representatives to ensure its presence is not a distraction or hindrance to mourners at the funeral.

Its Help on the Homefront program helps the Patriot Guard establish working relationships with military facilities and hospitals, and arranges for Patriot Guard members to visit soldiers in these facilities.

Orr is a part of the metro-northwest sector in Minnesota. The state is sectioned off into 19 additional sectors, each which has its own ride captains and assistant ride captains.

The Orrs have lived between Delano and Montrose since 1992. Cyndi is the owner of Curves for Women in Delano, and Darin works with computer systems, as well as owns and operates Darcyn Equine Supply.

“I do equine consulting and have a line of horse feed I sell,” he said.

He said he hopes the benefit in Delano is a large event, and helps raise funds for the organization.

The benefit will offer dinner consisting of pulled pork sandwiches and brats being served from 5 to 9 p.m.

A silent auction will also be taking place, with bidding ending at 9:30 p.m.

Music will be provided by Squishy Mud from 6 to 8 p.m., and The Ryders from 9 p.m. to close.

A portion of all food and drink sales go toward Help on the Homefront.

For more information, contact Orr at (763) 972-9826, or visit www.mnpatriotguard.org.

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