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Ride for the Troops

Bikers rode in a nearly mile-long parade into Itasca State Park Sunday afternoon. (Photos by Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

BY Sarah smith

The 8th annual Ride for the Troops rumbled through central Minnesota Sunday, some 400 motorcycles and 500 riders strong.

The 130-mile charity run raises between $15,000 and $20,000 for service men and women, said Ken Donaghue of Bemidji.

The funds go to defray expenses overseas and to families back here at home.

The ride started in Bemidji Sunday morning, where it then wound into Hubbard County through Becida, then south to Zerkel. There, the small store owner presented Donaghue an $1,100 check.

That’s not unusual, he said. Much of the proceeds come from registration fees and generous donations along the way.

“It just comes out of the woodwork,” Donaghue said in amazement.

The group then rode to the north side of Itasca State park, then back to Bemidji.

The ride came into its own when the group hooked up with the Blue Star Mothers out of Park Rapids.

“We happened to be in the Legion and saw they were on the (notice) board there,” Donaghue recalled. They called the contact number and have collaborated ever since.

“They help us, we help them,” Donaghue beamed.

The event is greeted by flag-waving residents and supporters.

At Itasca, a Legion color guard lent its support.

“I hear ‘em,” said a woman at Itasca as the mile-long parade wound down Highway 200 in Clearwater County.

“It’s really an impressive sight,” said Park Rapids resident Russ Carmichael, who’s son Logan just returned from a four-year stint that sent him to Iraq.

Logan filmed the event from atop a piece of construction equipment, where he got a panoramic view of the scene.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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