Patriot Ride to honor veterans, law enforcement

Staff Writer
I cover the cities of Andover, Blaine and Ramsey. I have worked at ABC Newspapers since August 2007.
File photo
The 12th annual Patriot Ride is Saturday, July 8. The 50-mile ride starts at noon at the Anoka County-Blaine Airport and goes through northern Anoka County before heading back to the airport. The event includes many other demonstrations and activities besides the ride.

More than 4,000 motorcycle riders are expected for the 12th annual Patriot Ride as a strong symbol of support for the military and the police.

The Saturday, July 8, ride begins and ends at the Anoka County-Blaine Airport, 10188 Radisson Road NE. Riders should come into the airport at the north entrance off Radisson Road. The meeting place is the Lynx fixed base operation facility.

Registration is from 9-11:30 a.m. There will be an opening ceremony at 11 a.m. and the ride begins at noon. An afternoon ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m.

The ride route is 50 miles long and stretches into northern Anoka County. It goes north of Linwood Lake and through the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area before heading south to get back to the airport.

A map of the route, along with other information about the event, can be found at www.thepatriotride.org.

This is the eighth year that Jim Woodruff has participated in the Patriot Ride and the third year he’s been the designated ride captain. Seeing people standing along the route, waving U.S. flags or holding pictures of soldiers or police officers are among the memorable moments for him. A visual that gives him goosebumps is looking in his rear-view mirror and seeing a long line of bikes behind him.

“As a biker, I think it’s cool to see people come together for one united cause,” he said.

Proceeds from this year’s ride will benefit the Minnesota Patriot Guard, Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund, Tribute to the Troops and Backing the Blue Line.

Woodruff’s father, J.P. Woodruff, was a Korean War veteran and would come to the Patriot Rides to watch the riders and the speakers. His father died in March, so this will be the first time he will not be with his son for the Patriot Ride.

“He said it was nice to see people haven’t forgotten the sacrifices the past generations made and the current generation is still making to this day,” Woodruff said.

More than a ride

The Patriot Ride has long been more than just a ride. The St. Paul Police Department motorcycle team, a Blaine police K-9, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office mounted patrol and SWAT Team, a T-6 Thunder flyover, vintage war plane display and a Gold Star and End of Watch recognition ceremony are just a few of the demonstrations that will be happening on July 8.

The full schedule can be found at www.thepatriotride.org.

Vietnam veteran Barry Winslow, of Plymouth, is one of the featured speakers during the 11 a.m. opening ceremony. For his service during 1970-1971, he earned the Army Commendation Medal, Bronze Star and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek will also speak during the morning service.

World War II veteran Norman Bixby, of Apple Valley, will be speaking at the 3 p.m. afternoon ceremony.

Tammy Becklin, a member of the Patriot Ride organizing team, said they decided to add Backing the Blue Line as a new beneficiary this year after seeing the outpouring of support for the St. Paul Police Department’s motorcycle team that will again be back this year.

“They’re our front line of defense. Without them our lives would be much different,” Woodruff said of the law enforcement community.

Law enforcement provides traffic control and an escort for the Patriot Ride so things run smoothly for the thousands of riders.

“Without them, we couldn’t do what we do,” he said.

According to Becklin, the Minnesota Patriot Guard, Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund and Tribute to the Troops will each receive 29 percent of the event proceeds while Backing the Blue Line will get 13 percent.

Each of the military support groups have a common cause to honor veterans and their families but have different methods of showing this support.

The Patriot Guard primarily attend funeral services as invited guests of the family.

The Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund started in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. This organization has awarded more than 16,500 grants, totaling more than $10.5 million, to military personnel who have served in a combat zone since September 2001.

Tribute to the Troops has a Minnesota Fallen Heroes Children’s Education Fund in which the children of a fallen veteran receive a 529 education savings plan for postsecondary education. Over $300,000 has been given to this cause.

Backing the Blue Line helps officers and families with services and labor during times of illness or work-related incidents.