Another great ride event at the Iowa Veteran’s Home this past Saturday September 22nd!!
We were asked to come back to the Vet’s home in Marshalltown after great success in June with our inaugural event there. After the overwhelming support from clubs and the residents at the home talking about their experience for WEEKS, we couldn’t say no!! This go around we were also joined by the head of the Iowa Veteran’s home Commandant Timon Oujiri several times throughout the day. He was talked into a spin in a machine with one of IVH’s staff and had even taken a turn driving that machine. We thank Timon for inviting us to hold this event again.
We started the day with a quick drivers meeting at 9am on a cool breezy morning. The sun was out and the temps were looking ideal for this event (eventually) and we had 15 machines and around 30 members to help make another special day. When we met with staff to go over the basics and sign waivers, we also mentioned we had blankets available to cover folk’s legs or laps with the chilly start. We also were asked if members not driving machines could help staff in escorting those capable of walking to the pick-up points from their room. This gave many people a chance to interact and visit that much longer with the residents and was a great addition. My personal favorite was the privilege of having a gentleman who had just celebrated his 102nd birthday…ONE HUNDRED AND TWO years old and still took that ride and smiled the entire time!!
Not many words were spoken about the temperature but more about the beautiful sunny day in front of us. With the Iowa river running high we had to cut short the section that followed the flow and we watched the water rise a bit with each lap of that section of our route. The turnaround we had designated was soon covered with 10 inches of water, but our passengers loved the 10 foot section of water travel at the end of that loop. If the water had risen much more we may have lost quite a bit more of that section so we watched it closely. Luckily with the cooler morning we also were not bothered with bugs, the afternoon when loading back up was another story as they quickly began sampling the members’ blood types after the residents had all taken their rides.
We broke for lunch around noon and decided to do things a little different from the last event. In our first visit to the IVH we had all seemed to sit together in the cafeteria, this time it was brought up to spread out and sit with residents open to guests as they ate. The topics ranged from roles in the service to how the food was. Many members had spoke with residents and convinced them to at least come take a look at what was going on outside on such a beautiful day. I know my son and I had great conversation with a gentleman and had talked him into taking a spin after lunch when he was quite hesitant to even go see what it was about.
After lunch I was lucky to have picked up the very gentleman we spoke with at lunch who was hesitant on even looking at what was happening. When I pulled into the area we were loading folks in, I was VERY happy to see him climb in. He was quite surprised when I pulled my helmet low to show him just who he was jumping in with. We both shared a laugh and shook hands as he got buckled in. I was a bit surprised however when we returned from his ride and when asked how it was by staff, he said he thought it was good, but tame. Of course that meant I was going to take him for another lap and possibly bump the excitement level a bit. When we got back the second time he was laughing and smiling and thanked me multiple times for the great ride and chat. I explained it was the least we could do after all he had done for our great country. These folks fought for us, us giving a ride in these machines paled in comparison to their service!
We wrapped up the day around 3pm and were lucky enough to give around 76 residents a ride throughout the day. They told many stories of machines they had once rode whether that be tractors, motorcycles, or hot cars. They were transported back to their youth and not a single one said they regretted taking that spin. Looking around at our members and volunteers there was constant smiles and everyone was super helpful and outgoing for the day’s event. Many spoke of just how rewarding the day was and shared stories from the day. These are some of the best riding memories many of us will ever share and we couldn’t have done it without those who came out to help.
We already have a tentative date for the event next year of June 9th back at the IVH. We look for more and more machines so please plan now and help spread the word on how great this event is for all involved. If you have questions or comments feel free to share or contact us on the website for more info.
RIDE ON!! ~Justin Rath, IOHVA President