Bikers ride today for veterans' hospital

June 01, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - In what has become one of the largest fund-raising events for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, hundreds of motorcyclists will once again hit the road today in honor of veterans at the local hospital.

For seven years, motorcyclists have ridden from Greencastle, Pa., to the veterans hospital to raise money for patients.

Usually the funds, raised from the $5 registration fee each biker pays, is used to purchase items - such as hearing aids or exercise equipment - that the hospital does not provide for patients, said Mary Anne Davenport. She is one of the organizers of Operation God Bless America VII.

The ride is a social event as much as it is a fund-raiser.

After the motorcylists arrive, they have a cook-out with the veterans at a pavilion near the front entrance of the hospital. Some of the motorcyclists also go inside the hospital to visit patients who cannot come outside.


"It's a neat experience. It really is," said Dottie Hough, chief of voluntary services at the hospital. "We always look forward to it with great anticipation," Hough said.

Any motorcyclist is invited to join the group beginning at 10 a.m. today at the Buck Horn Plaza truck stop along Interstate 81 in Greencastle, Davenport said.

Riders will be registered until 11:30 a.m.

The riders will then enter I-81 for a 50-minute ride to Martinsburg.

Rob McCulloh, a motorcyclist from Mercersburg, Pa., originally envisioned the ride as a way to raise money for troops in Operation Desert Storm, Davenport said.

But the conflict ended before the bikers could hold their ride. The event went ahead as planned, and organizers decided to give the proceeds to the local veterans hospital, Davenport said.

The first ride raised about $500, he said. Last year, about 400 riders participated and raised about $5,300 for the hospital, the biggest donation so far, he said.

"We've come a long way. It's just gotten bigger each year," he said.

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