There’s something impressive about 100 motorcycles with a police escort rumbling along local roadways.
Especially when the outcome is support for an organization that meets the needs of adults and children in crisis due to domestic violence.
That was the scene Saturday as the Legion Riders of Bedford American Legion Post 221 led a 52-mile meandering charity ride to raise money for the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, an Essex County organization. Also involved are members of Bikers Against Child Abuse.
Riders departed the town along Route 62 to Concord, and returned along Route 225 from Carlisle. Participants took a halftime break at the Legion post in the Nabnasset section of Westford.
The Bedford post’s organization started about four years ago with six members. One of them, longtime resident Paul McGrath, said he got involved by default. “Someone signed me up because they knew I had a motorcycle,” he related. “I didn’t know what it was about until I got to the meeting.”
“The organization is about people who enjoy riding motorcycles and have an affinity for helping veterans,” said McGrath, who started riding a motorcycle as a teenager and resumed after about a 30-year hiatus.
The Bedford Riders, who wear leather vests with a Bedford Flag patch, now comprise about 40 members. They have raised money for disabled veterans, individual veterans in need, scholarships for surviving children. They took part in a recent parade in Haverhill honoring eight residents who fought in World War II. “The focus is on people who need help,” McGrath said.
Locally, the Riders annually support the post’s patriotic events like the flag retirement ceremony on June 14 and the reading of the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July.
“All the clubs are supportive of one another,” McGrath said, and his group often sends delegations to take part in various events, mostly in New England but as far away as Washington, DC. And that was the case on Saturday, as representatives of many Legion posts joined the Bedford club for the benefit ride.
The Riders raise money by charging a registration fee, selling raffle tickets at the post-ride buffet, donations from other chapters, and arranging for corporate donations.
“It combines fundraising and support with a nice ride,” said McGrath, who cited the camaraderie. “There are so many people that I never would have met had I not been involved. It has been a great opportunity to meet people, have fun and do something constructive.”
The riders traveled beneath the American flag suspended from the Fire Department’s ladder truck.
Patrolman Tom Devine, Bedford’s traffic officer, handled street closings and notified other towns of the convoy.
“It takes a village to get it all done,” McGrath said.
Behind the Scenes
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at email@example.com, or 781-983-1763