On August 6, 2006 Homes for Our Troops held its third annual Charity Motorcycle Ride. This was a very successful event to benefit this organization which helps injured veterans nationwide.
“The event was held in conjunction with a barbeque restaurant called Texas Roadhouse. Our first year of this event they literally took us under their wing. They printed up posters, advertised it at their restaurants and even got a local Harley Davidson dealership involved in the event,” said Dawn Teixeira.
Teixeira is a staff person at Homes for Our Troops who has been with the organization since their very beginning. “The Harley Davidson dealership advertised the ride and they also let us purchase a Harley Davidson motorcycle at a very low cost to raffle off. They then helped us by selling the raffle tickets at the dealership.”
Homes for Our Troops is a non-profit, non-partisan organization founded in 2004. Their mission is helping those who have selflessly given to their country and have returned home with serious disabilities and injuries.
They assist injured service men and women and their immediate families by raising donations of money, building materials and professional labor and coordinating the process of building a new home or adapting an existing home for handicapped accessibility.
All services provided by Homes for Our Troops are at no cost to the veterans they serve.
The event was popular, with 350 registrations for motorcycle riders at $30 a ticket. There was a $20 additional charge if they brought a passenger. This raised $17,000 just on ride registrations.
The raffle for a Harley Davidson has been very popular each year, and costs $100 a ticket. About 300 tickets were sold, and the winner was a veteran of the Iraq war.
Teixeira believes that it is contact with the vets themselves that makes this event so successful. “This year one vet drove his truck in the ride and at the end he was the person to draw the winning ticket to present the Harley Davidson to the winner. When people see the vets, they often get emotional and go up to them and say “thank you for serving out country”,” said Teixeira.
“If people can see these veterans and see where the money goes to, that is important. The riders really like to see the actual people they are giving to.”
Riders attending the event got a pre-event breakfast, T-shirt and a post-event concert. “Our biggest expense was the food and drinks,” said Teixeira. “The band played for free at the concert. The wait staff at Texas Roadhouse volunteered to serve food. But we had other costs such as T-shirt printing and the cost of printed materials. We did cut down on the cost of printed materials by offering materials on the internet so people could print them themselves and post them if needed.”
With an event of this size, it was vital to have dedicated volunteers passionate about the cause and the event.
“I would say that we had a committee of about twenty people working on putting this event together,” said Teixeira. “At the event itself we also had ten people volunteering at the registration table. Once the ride began there was not very much for volunteers to do.”
Along with the raffle for the Harley Davidson motorcycle, there was also a 50/50 raffle. Local restaurants donated gift certificates and a local band donated tickets to a show. These other prizes were combined in with the drawing for the 50/50 raffle so that there were more prizes to give out for this raffle.
This is the third year that this event has been done by Homes for Our Troops. The first year the event made $25,000 and the second year the event raised an impressive $35,000. Thanks to great weather and the raffle that featured a Harley-Davidson with customized accessories and a paint job with a Marines theme, the 2006 ride raised over $40,000.
“The first year it was suggested by Texas Roadhouse and it was so successful, we decided to make it an annual event. The Harley Davidson people are very patriotic as well. This event totally takes on a life of its own, we really have gotten the support of the right group of people,” said Teixeira. “A lot of motorcycle riders are vets themselves, so they often do rides like these all summer long.”
During the second Charity ride, the winner of the Harley Davidson motorcycle raffle did something very generous: she gave the bike back to Homes for Our Troops to sell to raise more money for their charity. “That bike has now been signed by NASCAR drivers and many injured vets. We are going to be auctioning it off on ebay.com sometime around Veterans Day.” said Teixeira.
To learn more about Homes for Our Troops, visit HomesForOurTroops.org