09/05/10 — Guardian ride to benefit troops injured since 9/11

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Guardian ride to benefit troops injured since 9/11

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on September 5, 2010 1:50 AM

They are used to coming together in Afghanistan -- airmen from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Marines from Camp Lejeune and soldiers from Fort Bragg.

But Saturday, their forces will be joined stateside, as motorcycle clubs from each of the installations will converge on the Mad Boar Restaurant and Bar in Wallace as they culminate a day spent raising funds to enhance the quality of life for service members and their families who have been affected by injuries or death in the line of duty since 9/11.

Goldsboro's own Guardian Brotherhood -- a group of riders with military ties, bound together by a sense of duty to help others who have worn and still wear the uniform -- will be among those participating in the 9/11 Hope Ride.

Retired Seymour Johnson airman Brian Volk is one of them.

"As I found out more and more about it, (the event organizer) was talking about, 'Well, OK, we're going to leave out of Jacksonville with the Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard and the Army is going to leave out of Fayetteville,'" Volk said. "I'm like, 'OK. This is a no-brainer. We're going to bring the Air Force from Goldsboro and we're going to bring all five branches of the service together at one location."

And that location, a restaurant in Wallace, will be the setting for an after-party set to feature a bike show, food, entertainment, 50/50 raffle and, most importantly, a 9/11 memorial ceremony.

Volk said the Brotherhood decided to join the ride after they found out about it during planning for their annual Poker Run -- they liked the idea that more than 90 percent of proceeds would go to those injured in the line of duty.

"That's huge for us," he said. "You know you're not padding somebody's pocket."

The Brotherhood first introduced itself to Goldsboro in September 2007, when the club planned and executed an event that raised more than $500 for Seymour Johnson's Family Support Center.

"We were thinking that on the holidays, it is kind of tragic that some airmen have to make the decision, 'Do I buy my kids Christmas presents, or do I buy them diapers? How tragic is that?" Jamie Farnell, one of the club's founders, said then. "You know, as a non-commissioned officer, you are supposed to take care of the little guy. That's how the whole thing started."

The following year, after the group's membership grew, they hosted a second run -- one that raised more than $1,200 for the Disabled American Veterans' local chapter.

And last year they took to the streets again, this time raising several thousand dollars for the Military Order of the Purple Heart-sponsored Warrior Christmas Leave Program, an effort that sends wounded troops stationed in North Carolina home for the holidays.

"The more we got into this ... it has just exponentially grown over the years," Volk said.

And he hopes that after this year's event, future poker runs will follow the example set Saturday -- that hundreds of riders will, again and again, pull up their kickstands in support of the nation's fighting force.

"We're hoping this is the start of something big," Volk said.

Those who wish to register for the event -- or donate to the cause -- can do so on the Web at www.hopeforthewarriors.org/2ndpokerrun.html.

Same-day registration also will be available from 9 to 11 a.m. at Shelton's Harley-Davidson in Goldsboro, the Cape Fear Harley-Davidson in Fayetteville and the New River Harley-Davidson in Jacksonville.

All funds raised will benefit Hope For The Warriors, a nonprofit organization that supports wounded U.S. service members, their families and families of the fallen.