Ride Heals, Raises Funds
“All we need is for everyone to do what you’re doing,” said Jan Scruggs, Founder and President of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
He was speaking to an incredible group of veterans from Minnesota. Lead by 2013 Minnesota VFW State Commander Lee Ulferts, the team visited the VVMF office in D.C. to report their incredible fundraising success for the Education Center at The Wall.
Ulferts organized a Ride for Healing the week of Memorial Day 2013 as his Commanders Project. The ride, which began in St. Paul, Minn. and which spread out to the four corners of the state, had two missions; to raise funds for the Education Center, and to give a hero’s “Welcome home” to Vietnam veterans.
“I dreamed of being able to reach out to those veterans who live in the far corners of my state and welcome them into our posts and tell them that their service was honorable, that they are valued, that their sacrifice was as great as any from any other war, and most importantly they needed to be welcomed home,” Ulferts said. “Many have never had that hug, that recognition by their community, and they so desperately need that.”
Despite the fact that the ride occurred during an unusually cold and rainy week, thousands gathered to ride with Ulferts, and still more arrived to support the riders.
The ride attracted many people who had been touched by the Vietnam War. The wife and the sister of Norman Lee Hinkle gave the riders a box to bring to The Wall in Washington, D.C. The box included Norman’s medals, stripes, badges, correspondence, photos, clippings, even a letter from the U.S. Department of Treasury with a check for $11,90: the pocket money Norman had in Vietnam at the time of his death.
Supporters of the ride donated not only artifacts but donations, too.
“Bikers are probably the most patriotic and generous group of people you’ll ever meet,” said Jim, who served as an Army combat photographer in Vietnam and who was instrumental in pulling off the Ride for Healing.
In a special check presentation ceremony at the VVMF office, the group donated $30,000 to the Education Center at The Wall. And they have big plans to continue fundraising.
“I bet 95 percent of the people in this nation have no idea that this Center is trying to be built,” Ulferts said. “Our veterans need to heal before they pass from this earth and I know that we can reach many of them for that healing. Never again must we allow one generations of Americans abandon another.”