WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Former U.S. Marine Antonio Rocco knows exactly how it feels to be in the middle of a pack of motorcycles tooling down the main street of some town, the Winston-Salem Journal reports.
“It is awesome,” Rocco said, as he stood on the parking lot at American Legion Post 55 on Miller Street on Tuesday, surrounded by hundreds of motorcycles. “It is loud, too.”
Rocco and his wife Velvet were taking part in the American Legion Legacy Run, an annual event that raises money for the organization’s Legacy Scholarship Fund. The fund provides educational help for the children of wounded and deceased veterans from the terror attacks of 2001 to the present.
Some 300 bikers began the trip in Indianapolis on Sunday, although their numbers are swelled by hundreds daily as others join in for shorter segments of the ride.
Coming from Danville, Va., to Winston-Salem, the riders stopped for a meal at the American Legion post, then heeded the call to mount their motorcycles for the trip to Statesville on Interstate 40. The ride will end in Kings Mountain on Thursday in advance of the American Legion national convention in Charlotte.
Some riders talked about the big storms they passed through Monday en route to Danville, where they arrived late but found a warm welcome in the town.
Steve Walker of Danville, who started his ride in Indianapolis, said he has been riding in the event since 2009.
“You meet a lot of friends from all over the country,” he said. “You get people standing on bridges waving at you with American flags. You have American Legion members in uniform saluting you. You will get tears in your eyes that people will take time out to support you.”
Walker said he served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969 in the U.S. Army.
Mike Gabriele, a rider from Richmond, said that this, his seventh ride, was like a reunion.
“It is very inspiring when you know that you are helping children and you see all the people riding,” he said.
Mike “Goat” Kirchoff of Panama City, Fla., one of the road captains for the trip, said he’s made all nine Legacy runs.
“It’s been a wonderful ride so far except for the monsoon that we ran into … it about drowned everybody,” Kirchoff said. “But you can’t predict what the weather is going to be when you ride a motorcycle. But it’s been a great ride.”