August 14, 2017
Proceeds for Our Military Kids have arrived from the Loess Hills Harley-Davidson’s “Ride with Senator Joni Ernst to Support Our Military Kids.”
“Thankfully, all went well, despite the concerns that arose prior to the ride,” said OMK’s Executive Director Linda Davidson.
The “concerns” had to do with a Nebraska man who walked into the Iowa Harley dealership days before the July 8 event and made threatening comments about the senator. Since then, the FBI was notified, and the man was charged.
Ernst, alongside Loess Hills owner, Ray Croghan, led a rumbling caravan of over 100 motorcyclists from Pacific Junction, Iowa, to Hamburg, Iowa, 40 miles south. Their Hamburg destination was Freedom Rock, one of 62 rocks throughout the state that have been painted to commemorate Iowans who have served during wartime.
Ernst spoke to participants about the importance of OMK’s efforts for children of deployed and wounded military members.
“It’s very stressful having a parent away from home for such a long time,” she said. “It’s stressful too if you have a parent who’s been wounded going through treatments.”
The senator, a retired lieutenant colonel with 23 years combined service in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard, has first-hand knowledge of the stresses of military life. When her daughter was three years old in 2003-2004, she deployed to Kuwait.
“I was blessed to have a really supportive family that was able to engage her in a lot of activities,” she said. “Not every family is as fortunate as that.”
Mark Moore is the director of the Loess Hills chapter of Harley Owners Group (HOG), the community building club for Harley owners. When he first contacted Ernst’s office to invite her to the event, he was thrilled that she “was gracious to come over and ride with us.”
Moore selected OMK as the ride’s benefactor because of its focus on National Guard and Reserve and on military kids, “a niche area people don’t always think about.”
Since many of his dealership’s riders are current or former military members, Loess Hills made up coins with the dealership’s logo on one side and OMK’s logo on the other.
“It was great to get out on the road,” said Sen. Ernst, “see old friends and new at the event, and show our support for the families who give so much in defense of our nation.”
Davidson said, “We’re so grateful for the support of these adventurous people. They’re all about patriotism, freedom and pride in our military. Those are values important to Our Military Kids, as well.”
(Please email your comments to Judy McSpadden at JSMcSpadden@ourmilitarykids.org.)