Annual Freedom Ride open to all motorcyclists
By Staff Sgt. Monica Dalberg, 514th Air Mobility Wing
/ Published April 23, 2008
MCGUIRE AIR FORCE BASE, N.J. -- -- Sponsors of the second annual Armed Forces Freedom Ride expect up to 1,000 motorcyclists to participate in the event that takes place May 18 and starts in West Collingswood, passes through historic Mount Holly and then down a runway here, ending at Fort Dix.
The Burlington County Military Affairs Committee, Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation and Barb's Harley-Davidson sponsored the ride and raised $25,000 last year. Over 750 people and 600 motorcycles took part in that inaugural ride.
Barbara Borowiec, owner of Barb's Harley-Davidson and member of the BCMAC, was happy at the money raised in last year's ride, but she was also pleased with something else.
"They (military) saw all the support from the community," said Borowiec. "That was one of my main goals, to show the men and women at Fort Dix, McGuire Air Force Base and Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station, that we know you're here. You're right here in our backyard and we support you and we love you."
This year's ride will be lead by Jon Cavaiani, a prisoner of war in Vietnam and U.S. Army Medal of Honor recipient. Accompanying Cavaiani will be Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Jon Runyan, former Philadelphia Flyers Bob Kelly and Brian Propp and former Philadelphia Phantom Frank Bialowas.
The approximately 40-mile route starts at Barb's Harley-Davidson at 926 Black Horse Pike in West Collingswood Heights at 10 a.m., follows Interstate-295 north, through Mount Holly and on to McGuire Air Force base, concluding down a runway and to Fort Dix.
"We're hoping this year when we ride through Mount Holly we can have some people come out of their houses and cheer the riders on," said Mary Duffy, an organizer and employee at Barb's Harley-Davidson.
Duffy said there was a large crowd of spectators outside the dealership when the ride started last year and Cavaiani was a highlight of the event.
"People were in tears last year shaking his hand," she said.
"I am thankful we have civic organizations that recognize our freedom and want to help those who help ensure that freedom," said Col James L. Kerr, commander of the 514th Air Mobility Wing.
"This event encompasses an American pastime, motorcycle riding, something I personally enjoy," said Colonel Kerr, who plans to participate in the Freedom Ride.
"It's a good thing when like minds rally together and pay tribute the heritage of sacrifice, as well as the present sacrifice, for freedom," said Colonel Kerr. "This is a joint base and joint community event and the 514th is a valuable part of the team. I highly encourage participation."
Chief of Safety for the 514th AMW, Lt. Col. Mark Ustaszewski, wants riders to keep a few things in mind.
"It's vital to do a thorough safety check on your bike before a ride. Items to check include tire pressure, fluid levels, fuel and make sure all your lights are working," Colonel Ustaszewski said.
"When going on an organized ride, it is imperative you have enough fuel for the entire ride since stopping may not be an option," he said. "A full tank of fuel would be the best bet."
Military members must adhere to military standards for riding. This includes the use of helmets, eyewear for helmets without shields, contrasting outer garments for day visibility and reflective outer garments for night visibility, according to Colonel Ustaszewski.
"Full fingered gloves are also a requirement and finally it is recommended to have over-the-ankle footwear," he added."
The ride concludes at 1 p.m. with a complimentary barbecue chicken lunch for participants as well as live music, a performance by the Motorcycle Patrol Drill Team and more.
Participants must pre-register for the Freedom Ride by May 16. Registration is free to active duty, Reserve and National Guard members who provide a valid identification card. All others, including passengers on motorcycles, must pay a $30 registration fee.
More information on the ride and registration forms is available online at www.armedforcesfreedomride.org and can be mailed to the address on the forms. Participants may also register in person at Barb's Harley-Davidson.
Proceeds from the Armed Forces Freedom Ride benefit military members, veterans and their families as well as those of federal law enforcement personnel.
Melissa Hayes, a reporter with the Burlington County Times contributed to this article.