Motorcyclists ride to Manteno Veterans Home bearing donations
By Jaime Angio Correspondent November 4, 2012 9:22PM
John Bartosiewicz (left) and Tom Yarber (right) introduce and applaud Archie Trapp, 88, a World War II veteran at the annual Manteno Veterans Parade in Tinley Park, Illinois, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012. | Karen Gioia ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 6, 2012 6:09AM
The weather Sunday morning couldn’t have been any better for the 2,000-plus riders who came out on their motorcycles for the 14th annual Manteno Veterans Ride.
Riders assembled under the sunny skies at the Tinley Park Convention Center in preparation for the 30-mile, police-escorted ride to the Manteno Veterans Home.
There is no fee to ride. But biker and biker beauties were on hand with donations to give to the vets.
“The objective is to try and make it as comfortable as we can to the veterans that are residing there (in Manteno),” said John Bartosiewicz, event organizer and Chapter X commander of the American Veterans Motorcycle Riders Association.
“They have approximately 340 veterans there, and I think 30 of them are women, and we just try and make it nice for them,” Bartosiewicz said.
“(When) we get to Manteno we have a truck loaded with things the VA has on their wish list, personal care items, sweatshirts and T-shirts, different things they need for day-to-day life.”
Bartosiewicz also said when the ride started 14 years ago there were just two motorcycles.
“It’s grown to over 2,300 last year,” he said. “So far in 14 years we have raised over $200,000 for the home.”
Dianna Busha, of Monee, came out with her 2006 Dyna Street Bob Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Busha has been on the ride for six years. She said the best part is showing that you’re an American and being a part of something good.
“I’m out here supporting our veterans,” Busha said. “Being with everybody, it’s a good gathering of people, and we love doing something good. We brought bags of goodies. Some socks, puzzle books and cash as well.”
American Lawmen Motorcycle Club, of Alsip, had about 100 guys riding Sunday. The club brought a $5,000 check for their donation.
Mike Luman, of Plano, who is on his fourth ride with the club, said, ‘It’s all about the vets.’
“They’re the best group of people that help keep our country free,” Luman said. “And the least we could do is come and see them once a year and if not more and pay our respects and help the cause.”
Steve “Spud,” of Oak Forest, has been on the ride to Manteno for seven years. Spud comes to ride for a veteran who is very near and dear to him.
“I always like going there because I visit where my dad ended up because he was in the Manteno Veterans Home in the end,” Spud said.
“So I always like to go and see his picture on the wall, shake hands with a few veterans and pat them on back and know that we’re still thinking about them.”
And no one was remembered more than Archie Trapp, 83, who served as the honorary road captain for this year’s ride.
AVMRA teamed up with Hospice Dreams, an organization in Bradley, that helps make last wishes for hospice patients.
Trapp, a World War II vet, lives at the Manteno Veterans Home and is under hospice care. Trapp served in the Army Signal Corps and was stationed in Germany. He drove a military Harley throughout Europe delivering messages.
His last wish was to ride a Harley once again. Although not physically able to ride a hog, Trapp rode in a sidecar the whole way “home.”
“It was good,” Trapp said. “It was an enjoyable ride indeed.”