Bikers Roar Over Roads to Support Wars’ Wounded Veterans

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U.S. Military Vets Motorcyclists Raise Money for Veterans during Operation Liberty
by Amy Wu

The leathered motorcyclists blazing through the back roads of Bloomfield, Canandaigua and Rush weren’t in it just for the fun Saturday. They covered 100-odd miles of road to raise money for wounded Americans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We saw there was a need,” said Michael Shestock, president of the Rochester chapter of the U.S. Military Vets Motorcycle Club. “You hear about so many veterans in Iraq, ordinary people. … They are coming back to jobs they don’t have anymore. Their lives are forever changed.”

About 500 motorcyclists, some coming from Pennsylvania and Virginia, showed up at American Legion Smith Warren Post 367 in Scottsville to participate in Saturday’s Operation Liberty.

Shestock said organizers hoped to raise $10,000 for the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes Fund, a nonprofit organization in Westchester County that offers financial aid to wounded military personnel…

     

The American Legion post and Labatt beer also sponsored the fundraiser.

The blastoff of sleek bikes started a little after noon. At each stop, the bikers rolled dice and kept score for potential prizes; one of the stops was the V.A. Medical Center in Canandaigua.

The event ended in Scottsville with a barbecue and music by The Coupe de Villes. The motorcycle club plans on making Operation Liberty an annual event pegged to different veteran-related causes.

While charity runs are common in the motorcycle world, this was one of the first to specifically support returning military personnel, Shestock said.

“We just thought we found a good cause, and we’re doing what we love to do,” said Vince Tomasella, 42, a veteran of the Persian Gulf War and member of the motorcycle club’s Rochester chapter.

The chapter started rallying support from the American Legion and local businesses about six months ago. Other chapters showed their support by attending, including those from out of state and members of the Long Island chapter.

For avid bikers Chris and Corinne Heschke of LeRoy, Genesee County, Operation Liberty was the perfect kickoff to the Fourth of July weekend.

“It’s the first day of vacation, and I thought let’s do something for us, and it’s a great cause,” said Corinne Heschke, setting off on her orange bike.


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