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Scenic ride supports the troops

The benefit combined motorcycles and a pig roast to raise money to buy phone cards for service members in Afghanistan.

The benefit combined motorcycles and a pig roast to raise money to buy phone cards for service members in Afghanistan.

May 21, 2006|by MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN - Gripping the handlebars of his Harley-Davidson, Ken Conway hugged the turn of the driveway leading to Morris Frock American Legion Post 42.

Roaring into the parking lot, he was greeted by a sea of leather and a cloud of exhaust fumes.

He had just completed a scenic 80-mile ride that began in Williamsport and took him over mountains, through the countryside and eventually to Hagerstown.

Joining Conway were 27 fellow bikers who share a love for motorcycles and the open road. It was a chance to enjoy camaraderie, but the journey also joined them in a common cause - supporting the American military.

The bikers were part of an event that was aimed at raising money to purchase phone cards for members of a U.S. Navy unit stationed in Afghanistan.

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The benefit ride was the brainchild of Frank Getz, commander of American Legion Post 42, and legion member Terri Andress.

The wheels began turning, Getz said, when he received a request from a post member stationed in Afghanistan.

"He wrote a letter asking if there was a program to provide phone cards for deployed servicemen," he said. "I got together with Terri, who rides motorcycles with her husband, and we came up with the idea for a bike ride and pig roast fundraiser."

Getz said there are 55 people in the Afghanistan unit, and the cost for phone cards would be about $900.

Tickets for the benefit ride were $20 each, and entitled each person to a meal at the pig roast held at the completion of the ride at the legion's picnic pavilion, Getz said.

Organizers also have been accepting donations to purchase the phone cards, he said.

Getz said he has never met the young man stationed in Afghanistan, but has been exchanging e-mails with him for quite some time.

"I feel like I know him," he said. "And as a retired Navy man who served in Vietnam during the '60s, I feel like I can identify with him."

Getz said he is anxious to meet the young man in person when he returns home in August.

"I told him I owe him a beer," he said.

While there was some work involved in organizing the event, Getz said it was worthwhile.

"It's a good feeling to be able to do something for our servicemen," he said.

Brad Gee of Smithsburg agreed.

As one of the riders participating in Saturday's event, Gee liked the idea of combining a scenic ride with supporting the troops.

"I love to ride my Harley, and we finally had a nice day to get out on the road," Gee said. "But it's also nice to ride for a good cause."

Max Avey of Hagerstown was one of several members of the Kingdom Heirs, a Christian motorcycle club, who participated in Saturday's event.

"Part of the fun of the ride was knowing you were doing something worthwhile," he said. "You can get on your cycle and ride in circles, but it's better when you have a purpose. And this was a pretty good purpose. We got to get out and enjoy our beautiful country - but we're able to do that because of our soldiers."

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