Veterans charity ride goes to Sturgis

Castle Valley-based nonprofit uses motorcycle therapy to reach wounded veterans

A bagpiper and his dog lead a group of motorcycle-riding veterans July 25 at Swanny Park, where the annual Veterans Charity Ride to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally started. Photo by Doug McMurdo

The Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis began with a ceremony at Swanny Park July 25. The patriotic event featured bagpipes, a color guard from the American Legion in Moab, and the Utah Patriot Guard.

The guests of honor included 104-year-old Moab resident and World War II veteran Kate Thomson, who gamely rode in the sidecar of an Indian motorcycle, and men and women who were wounded in war. Some of the injuries they suffered were obvious. Amputees are hard to miss. Others were not visible at first glance – but those in attendance honored all of them.

Founder Dave Frey and his wife Sue, Castle Valley residents, began the program a few years ago. The Veterans Charity Ride is a nonprofit organization that uses motorcycle therapy and other holistic programs that, if nothing else, provides an uplifting experience for veterans, said Sue.

Veterans travel from Moab to Sturgis, South Dakota for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally roughly 732 miles away. They ride on Indian motorcycles, some in customized sidecars and trikes. They will travel “through the most beautiful scenic back roads of this great country, exploring America, getting our veterans outdoors, back into the environment, and connecting veterans with mentors and other veterans, groups and supporters,” according to the group’s website.

The nationally recognized program might focus on veterans who were injured, but their fellow veterans who survived their service unscathed also gain a reward if for no other reason than they are there to listen and talk about shared experiences. While at the Sturgis event, which begins Friday, the group will attend events and ride the Black Hills.

“It’s a wonderful program,” said Sue Frey.

Kate Thomson receives a bouquet of flowers during a ceremony July 25 at Swanny Park. Thomson, 104, a World War II veteran and a Moab resident, was honored by the Veterans Charity Ride, a group that uses motorcycles as therapy for wounded veterans. Photo by Doug McMurdo