By Amie Sites For the Kokomo Tribune
---- — Members of a Logansport-based bikers’ group are sponsoring an apartment for homeless veterans — one of several going up in the area.
Since the 2010 inception of the American Legion Riders Post 60, members have hosted charity events including a riders legacy run, an annual weeklong fundraiser for scholarships and many more events to raise funds for veterans.
Members of the nonprofit group recently donated $3,000 out of its funds raised to sponsor one of the apartments at the Jackson Street Commons in Kokomo, an apartment complex providing permanent housing to homeless veterans in and around Howard County. In addition to providing critical housing needs, specific support services will be available to assist with their successful stabilization, according to the project’s website.
The group sponsored a one-bedroom apartment, which means purchasing bedding, furniture, appliances and other necessities, Mark Harmon, director of the local group, said.
The money was donated to the apartment building recently and will soon house a veteran in need. Harmon said he felt fortunate to get involved with the Jackson Street Commons apartment project.
“It will be there long after I’m gone and that fills me with honor and pride,” Harmon said. “It will be a lasting community service.”
The local group that started with 13 original members now has 36 members from different locations including Kokomo, Lucerne, Carroll County and others. Members must be part of the American Legion, Ladies Auxiliary or Sons of the American Legion.
Harmon first got involved to honor his father, a World War II Purple Heart veteran. Harmon said he also liked motorcycles and had a friend already in the bikers’ group.
“I think a lot of times people don’t know the cost of freedom — sometimes it costs bodies, minds and lives,” Harmon said. “To be able to give back to individuals and provide some of that freedom for them is great.”
American Legion Riders nationwide raise money for veteran’s homes, children’s hospitals, schools, several wounded service members and scholarships. Local chapter members also provide assistance to local veterans who need a hand. Harmon credited generous donors from local businesses and others for the success of the Post 60 Riders’ fundraisers.
Rick Rottet, an American Legion Riders Post 60 member, has been with the group since it began. The riding and camaraderie of the group and being able to help others, especially veterans, is why Rottet is involved.
“The best times are when you get to see the results — it can be very moving,” Rottet said. “It makes you feel like you’ve done something.”
The group provides many scholarships including paying for a Cass County boy to attend Hoosier Boys State. The group has also given gas cards to people in need.
“To make that connection and brighten the day of a veteran or veteran’s family is a great experience,” Harmon said.
Other chapters have formed The Five Star Freedom Riders, an honor guard, and the Patriot Guard, a group that protects the sanctity of military funeral from protesters. Riders in all states have escorted military units military units, conducted cross-country fundraising events and raised money for local, state and national charities.
Those interested in contributing to charity events by making donations or volunteering can contact any member of the group or visit the Facebook page at on.fb.me/1efkJ6e.
Those wishing to join the group can visit meetings. The group meets at 6:30 p.m. on the third Friday of every month at the American Legion Post 60.
Harmon said the more members the group has, the more they’ll be able to do.
And they’re always looking for veterans that need assistance to help somebody who can’t help themselves, he said. “That’s why we’re here.”