They are a group of men and women motorcyclists who ride to veteran funerals or wherever else their services are needed. They are called the Patriot Riders of America, with chapters across the country and the first in Southwest Florida.
Jimmy “Ice” Johnson rides to honor his father.
“This pin right here,” said Johnson, pointing to a pin on his vest, “it was his, so in a way he still rides with me everyone I go.”
Tom “Daddy Warbucks” Delaney rides to help his comrades.
“I saw it as a vehicle to where I could do something to give back to other veterans,” Delaney said.
Each trip these Patriot Riders of America members make is fulled by a mission to serve their community.
The diverse group of men and women, who are inspiring people, meet at the Port Charlotte American Legion. Then, they ride together to wherever they can best help a family in need. Sometimes that destination is a cemetery for a fallen veteran’s funeral.
“We’ve had families contact us and they were afraid no one would show up at their loved one’s funeral,” Johnson said, “and they were surprised by the turnout.”
“None of these funerals are easy,” Delaney said. “I break down on just about every one of them. But that’s being able to do that and show honor to those veterans that really makes me feel good.”
Other rides the group has taken have led them to help veterans in Southwest Florida repair their roofs or install a ramp for wheelchair accessibility. Johnson told WINK News the appreciative look they get for helping is more than worth the effort.
“That’s where you get your biggest joy,” Johnson said.
Their fundraising allows the Patriot Riders of America to deliver donations, including for Christmas. It is an outreach the group hopes to continue expanding as their family continues to grow.
The Patriot Riders of America hopes to have chapters throughout the United States, as they deliver support and smiles on the back of a motorcycle.
“We all come together to try and support the individual as well as the loved one and the family,” Delaney said, “because we all are attached to each other.”