September 23 the Clearwater Legion Riders presented five veterans’ organizations an incredible total of $76,000, money which was raised through their annual Homeless Veteran’s Run and Fundraiser in August.
Instead of visiting each organization to present their donations individually, this year the Legion Riders invited all of the organizations to a spaghetti dinner so all of their members could be present and see where the money they raised is going. This year’s recipients included the Veterans Resource and Enrichment Center, Veterans on the Lake Resort, Wounded Warrior Guide Service, Angel Reins, and Patriot Assistance Dogs.
“This level of community and teamwork couldn’t be obtained without the many businesses and people like yourself,” said Legion Rider Dan Watson as he addressed the crowd. “Each of the organizations here tonight was carefully chosen to have the most impact for your money in veterans’ lives.”
First to be presented their check was the Veterans Resource and Enrichment Center located in St. Cloud, a new startup organization that’s mission is to provide enrichment for veterans and their families.
A veteran recipient of the organization’s resources addressed the crowd and explained he had been homeless for 10 years. Because of the Veterans Resource and Enrichment Center, he was now living in a group home with his own room, and three meals a day. Today he volunteers his time back to the community.
Veterans on the Lake Resort was next, an organization near the Boundary Waters with the mission of enriching the lives of disabled veterans, current and formerly enrolled veterans, and their families by providing opportunities for inclusion in outdoor recreational activities and mental respite.
The third organization, Wounded Warrior Guide Service, talked about their similar mission; providing recreational therapy to around 800 veterans each year by bringing them outdoors to experience activities such as camping trips and fishing events.
Another new organization, Angel Reins Stable, explained that they provide equestrian therapy to veterans and survivors of human trafficking. Most of the horses they use are rescues, for which they raise funds in order to purchase. The money donated by the Legion Riders will be used toward their next project, building an indoor arena and lounge area.
The final organization to receive a donation that evening, Patriot Assistance Dogs, uses ‘rescue dogs to rescue veterans,’ as all the dogs they train and provide are rescue animals themselves. They brought along a recipient of one of their dogs, a veteran who shared that without his service dog he wouldn’t be around today. That dog was right by his side.
The end cost for each dog provided by the organization is $12,000 to $15,000 after care and training, however they provide the animals to veterans at no cost.
The Clearwater Legion Riders’ Homeless Veteran’s Run and Fundraiser is held annually on the first weekend of August. Along with the ride, this year’s event included silent and live auctions, raffles, a pulled pork dinner, and a street dance. All proceeds from the event are used for veteran causes.