Bikers ride for VFW programs
Bandanas, bikers and blues filled the patio of Kelley's Bar and Grill on Saturday evening for the Basehor Veterans of Foreign Wars' "Ride for Veterans."
About 65 motorcycle enthusiasts revved up their Harleys and took off at noon from Basehor VFW Post 11499 for a 100-mile ride through three counties. Entry fees from the initial event raised about $1,200 for the VFW's color guard and rifle squad, VFW Commander Fred Box said. Box, who rides with the Patriot Guard and the Christian Riders Association, thought the event would be a good fundraiser because he knew a lot of people that would participate.
"I've been to every biker bar in Kansas City recruiting people too," he said. "We had a good ride. It was a real success."
With Box and his wife, Lisa, leading the pack as road captains, the group stopped at four different checkpoints along the way to break up the ride. Riders enjoyed chili dogs at the Kansan restaurant in Oskaloosa, pie and ice cream at the Timeout restaurant in Atchison and drinks at the Leavenworth VFW Post 56.
Basehor resident Gene Northern flew his airplane over the bikers during the Oskaloosa leg of the ride.
Local country band Donnie Walker Red entertained the group at the final stop at Kelley's in Basehor. Box had the group's lead singer Donnie Smith as a student when he taught history at Basehor-Linwood High School and asked the band to perform at the event.
"You all like disco right?" band member John Taylor said, getting a chuckle out of the crowd. "Disco and gangster rap, that's all we play."
Tom Steele, who has been riding for almost 40 years, said his favorite part of Saturday's ride was the stretch from Tonganoxie to Oskaloosa because of the beautiful countryside.
"I just love to ride, and it's for a good cause," he said. "I'm a veteran myself."
When the band took a break, Box announced the winners of the poker run. Riders received a playing card at each stop, and cash prizes were awarded to the participant that ended up with the best poker hand, the second-best hand and the worst hand. Most prize-winners donated all or part of their winnings back to the VFW.
Several other riders were also chosen to receive prizes such as T-shirts and tank tops.
Box closed the awards by thanking participants for supporting veterans.
"We always need to thank those that serve," he said. "And, rest assure we are free in this country because of veterans here and around the world."