By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN In an effort to appeal to more people and expand its membership, the Howard Lake American Legion has added another branch for its members to participate in the American Legion Riders.
“We wanted to expand our membership base. Some members were looking at doing something other than just going to the Legion,” said American Legion Riders director Gary Schmidt. “We are getting people with another common interest, other than the military, to join the Legion.”
That additional common interest is riding motorcycles, and participating in motorcycle rides to raise money for charitable giving.
The new organization and its officers were installed at a meeting of the American Legion Riders Tuesday.
Other American Legion Riders from district 10 came to welcome the new organization and offer support for its new constitution and by-laws.
Officers include Schmidt; assistant director and safety officer PJ Luhman; secretary/treasurer Darrin Blanchette; sergeant at arms Jeff Carpenter; and, road captain Art Jordan.
Those who wish to participate in the American Legion Riders must also be members of the American Legion, Sons of the American Legion, or the American Legion Auxiliary.
The American Legion Riders was formed in 1993 in Garden City, MI. Its main function is to raise money for scholarships for the children of US personnel killed since Sept. 11, 2001.
It also raises funds to assist homeless veterans, battered women’s shelters, and schools.
The American Legion Riders members also ride to honor fallen military men and women, and to protect the sanctity of their funerals from those who would dishonor their memory.
In addition,it provides escorts to military units departing or returning from combat.
Plans for this upcoming year
One of the first big events the new organization will assist in planning and supporting is the Minnesota Legacy Ride, which raises money for scholarships.
Although the Howard Lake organization has not yet received all of the information about the run, it plans to have Minnesota American Legion Riders come through Howard Lake and Delano, Schmidt said.
The organization will have periodic updates on its Facebook page about other events it plans throughout the year.
The next meeting of the new organization will take place Monday, April 15 at 7 p.m. at the Howard Lake American Legion.