MILLINOCKET, Maine — Motorcyclists don’t need a good reason to go on a run these days. The weather is warm but not stifling, the sun shines brightly, flowers and trees are in full bloom, and Mainers are seldom more hospitable than in summer.
But the Donald V. Henry American Legion Post 80 riders club likes to have good reasons for its daylong rides, and organizers said the reason for the ride on Sunday, Aug. 28, is among their best: House in the Woods Inc., A Military and Family Retreat.
Operated by the House family of Lee, House in the Woods provides veterans, particularly vets returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with a nature and camping retreat that will help them unwind after their combat experiences. The riders, typically numbering as many as 100, collect money through pledges and donations and are looking forward to helping the Houses.
“Our troops support us. We can support them,” said Steve Osborne, one of the ride’s organizers.
The riders will gather at 10:30 a.m. at the Legion clubhouse off Route 11 before starting their trek. The ride will take them mostly over back-country roads where the views are best through Brownville, Maxfield, Howland, Springfield, Lee and then back to Millinocket, Osborne said.
A free barbecue at the post will follow, said Jessica Pelkey, another organizer.
“We have a chance to meet some of the vets they help. It’s for a good cause. I am hoping that we have [more than] 100 bikes. This is amazing,” Pelkey said Wednesday of House in the Woods.
House in the Woods activities include hunting, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking and bird- and moose-watching, among other outdoor activities. Though he is no professional counselor, Paul House and members of other local families that help him know all too well the horror of war.
A Lee native, U.S. Army Sgt. Blair William Emery, 24, was killed Nov. 30, 2007, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Baqouba, Iraq. His death came slightly more than five months after Sgt. Joel House, 22, was killed June 23 by a bomb in Taji.
Post riders previously have donated proceeds from their runs to the post’s Adopt-A-Soldier care package assembly for servicemen and women serving overseas, to a paralyzed Benedicta man injured in a home-repair accident and a memorial fund established for the late U.S. Marine Corps Lt. James “Bing” Popkowski, among other causes.
The riders hope to raise at least $800 for House in the Woods. Anyone interested in making donations or participating in the ride — any street-legal motorized vehicle is welcome — may call the post at 723-8088 or Pelkey at 447-0551.