Thousands of motorcyclists supporting military veterans, current service members and their families will be converging on Ham Lake Lions Park Saturday, June 14 for the ninth annual Patriot Ride.
Pre-registration costs $25 per rider or you can register at the event for $35. The $10 passenger fee does not change. Visit www.thepatriotride.org for more information, including a map of the 50-mile route that goes into Isanti County but ends up back where it starts at Ham Lake Lions Park, 1220 157th Ave. NE.
Riders and their passengers can started showing up 9 a.m. June 14 to sign in. The ride starts at noon, but the parking lots get packed so it is best to not wait until the last minute if you want to leave when the other riders start. There are typically more than 2,000 riders each year.
A special pre-ride program starting at 11 a.m. will include ex-Navy SEALs doing parachute tandem jumps with a wounded warrior involved in the Minnesota Wounded Warrior project. Gold Star Family members who lost a loved one in combat will release balloons. Mike Ritland, founder of The Warrior Dog Foundation, will share his experiences with K-9 military dogs and helping them transition to civilian life after their service.
Other featured speakers at the 4 p.m. post-ride ceremony includes Lt. Larry Yatch, a retired Navy SEAL and chief executive officer of Sealed Mindset that offers firearms and self-defense programs; and Col. Jon Jensen, who is commander of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team headquartered out of Bloomington and serves as the director of joint staff at the Minnesota National Guard Joint Headquarters.
Proceeds from this ride are split between the Minnesota Patriot Guard and the Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund. Both organizations take on multiple projects to assist men and women who have served or continue to serve in the U.S. armed forces, They also help the families of deployed soldiers.
Live music by the Emerson Ave band after the ride. There will also be a K-9 demonstration and the Donnie Smith bike show from 3-5 p.m.
The winner of a raffle drawing will be able to do a tandem parachute jump with an ex-Navy Seal. Raffle tickets purchased the day of the event are $1 each. There is a 220-pound weight limit. All jumps will be weather permitting.
The 850th Horizontal Engineering Company of the Minnesota National Guard, headquartered in Cambridge, will be recognized during the ride as well.
According to the Isanti County News, the 140 soldiers in this company returned home in December after an eight-month deployment to Afghanistan where it built an alternate supply route to divert convoys from the main route that was routinely attacked, cleared mine fields, repaired various roads networks, improved drainage and flow control issues, deconstructed non-essential bases, and built a resiliency center, gym and multiple guard towers.
Eric Hagen is at email@example.com