May 10, 2006

Bikers hit road to raise money for war wounded

By Karen Jowers

May 10, 2006Army Times staff writer

Three motorcycle riders begin their trek from Virginia to Texas on May 15 to raise money and awareness for severely wounded and disabled troops who served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The riders will end their journey May 19 at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where many troops are being treated, including some with severe burns.

All money raised will go to the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes, a nonprofit association that helps disabled veterans of the war on terrorism. The riders will make a presentation to the coalition at a benefit concert May 19 in Austin, Texas. They will return to Fairfax, Va., on May 25.

As the riders go through Nashville, Tenn., on May 16 and 17, they will pick up another rider, Josh Forbess, a wounded veteran who remains on active duty after he was severely injured in a helicopter collision in Iraq.

One ongoing effort of the coalition is its Wounded Hero Emergency Financial Relief Program, which gave more than $594,000 to 277 families between August 2005 and January 2006. Those families received emergency relief for housing, utilities, medical bills, credit card and other debt, and other needs.

The "Ride for America's Patriots" is led by Tom Donegan, the owner of RE/MAX Premier in Fairfax, who decided to help raise money for the coalition after meeting disabled Iraq war veteran J.R. Martinez at a convention in 2005. Martinez, a national spokesman for the coalition, is now medically retired from the Army. He invited Donegan to visit him at Brooke, and Donegan took him up on the offer but added his own twist.

Donegan described the ride in an announcement as "a rolling tribute to raise awareness and funds to help those who had sacrificed for us."

The riders' itinerary:
Arrive in Bristol, Tenn., 4 p.m. on May 15
Arrive in Nashville, Tenn, 2 p.m. on May 16
Arrive in Little Rock, Ark. 4 p.m. on May 17
Arrive in Dallas, 3 p.m. on May 18
Arrive in San Antonio, 2 p.m. on May 19
Leave San Antonio, 8 a.m. on May 22; arrive in Baton Rouge. La., 5 p.m. May 22
Arrive Birmingham, Ala., 5 p.m. on May 23
Arrive Bristol, Tenn., 5 p.m., May 24
Return to Fairfax, Va., on May 25.

Daily updates on the riders' progress will be available at

Donations can be made along the way or through the Web site.



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