What Rick Cyr Jr., Jessica Pelkey and other members of the Donald V. Henry American Legion Post 80 of Millinocket Riders club began doing this summer as a lark helpful to others is starting to look like an industry.
After two rides through most of northern Penobscot County to benefit charities of their selection, club members will embark Sunday upon a third, this time to help a Benedicta man hurt in an accident at his home, Cyr said.
Glen Peloquin of Benedicta had just finished some work on his roof when a fall from a ladder left him partially paralyzed, Pelkey said. The loss of children he was about to adopt, a divorce and a struggle to pay his bills followed, she said.
“This guy has been through hell and back. He needs a wheelchair to get access to his vehicle, and so that’s what we are riding for,” Pelkey said Thursday. “We are hoping to be able to help in some way. Lord knows we are not going to pay for the whole wheelchair, but we’d like to put a nice dent in [the expense].”
The ride will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Legion hall off Route 11 and will sweep through Grindstone and Benedicta, mostly along back roads made especially scenic by fall’s magic upon the foliage, before heading back to the club, Pelkey said.
Club members plan to stop at the Bear’s Den cafe and restaurant in Benedicta, where they hope to meet Peloquin and have lunch, during the ride, Pelkey said.
More than $1,500 was raised, and 114 motorcycles and other participants rode in a club fundraiser honoring the late U.S. Marine Corps Lt. James “Bing” Popkowski that took riders through most of northern Penobscot County on Aug. 14.
Department of Veterans Affairs police Officer Thomas Park and Maine Warden Service Sgt. Ron Dunham reportedly shot Popkowski, 37, of Grindstone in woods off Route 17 near the Togus VA Medical Center in Augusta on July 8.
Forced by a rare form of cancer to accept a disability retirement, Popkowski had been a patient at the center and had been critical of the care he had received.
Preliminary evidence shows the officers fired in self-defense, officials have said. Popkowski was carrying a gun, which witnesses tentatively identified as a rifle, “in a threatening manner,” investigators said.
Investigators with the Maine Attorney General’s Office continue to investigate whether the deadly force used to subdue Popkowski provided the only means to end the danger, officials have said.
The $1,500 was given to Popkowski’s brother and surviving family for donation to the National Institutes of Health, the lieutenant’s charity, Cyr said.
A July 17 ride featuring about 50 motorcyclists and a half-dozen passengers raised about $650, including a $130 donation from United Bikers of Maine, for care packages that were assembled and sent by Legion members to U.S. military personnel serving overseas as part of the Adopt A Soldier program.
“It makes you feel good, like you did a good deed. You are helping someone who is bad off,” Cyr said Thursday of the rides. “It makes you step back and look at your life. As the Legion or the riders, we aren’t doing things for ourselves. We are about doing things for others, doing things that can help.”
Any motorcyclist is welcome to join the ride. All ride proceeds will go to Peloquin. Anyone interested in participating or making contributions may call Pelkey at 447-0551, contribute money at the Legion hall, or be there by 10 a.m. Sunday, she said.