Jeff Burger of DeWitt and Eric Deney of Davenport met by chance a few years ago.
The two had mutual friends on Facebook, and discovered their dads served in the same unit in Desert Storm.
They’ve been friends ever since.
It’s the reason why Burger, owner of MJ’s in downtown DeWitt, offered his business as a stopping point on this year’s Patriot Ride, put on by the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association Iowa 39-4.
Deney is the public relations officer for the chapter, one that he said still is fairly new on this side of the state.
This will be the fourth year for the ride, which raises money to donate to veteran care and various veteran charities.
“We raise funds to help local veterans,” Deney related. “What’s nice, is that all the funding stays in this area — Clinton, Scott, and Muscatine counties, and some of Jackson County.”
The event will be held Saturday, June 15.
Registration is 9-10 a.m. at the Veteran Outreach Center in Davenport, and kickstands will be up by 10:15 a.m.
The cost is $20 per rider and $10 per passenger.
Stops are scheduled at Go Fish Marina in Princeton, Legends Sports Bar in Clinton, MJ’s Tap in DeWitt, The Corner Grill in Blue Grass, and the Gypsy Highway Bar and Grill in Davenport.
The last stop will have giveaways, drawings, a silent auction, and a gun raffle.
One-hundred percent of every dollar raised, Deney noted, goes to local veterans, their families, and veteran organizations.
Deney said while they can’t confirm an exact number, the group would like to see about 200 motorcycles participate, which will be rolling into downtown DeWitt around 1:15 or 1:30 p.m. the afternoon of the ride.
“Jeff donated [a gun] for our raffle, so we appreciated that,” Deney related. “We decided [the MJ’s] location in DeWitt would be a really good stop for us.”
Online registration is available at getmeregistered.com/cvma394.
Returning to DeWitt
For some members of the group, this will not be their first visit to DeWitt.
Earlier this spring, volunteers came to the home of rural DeWitt resident, Vietnam veteran, and Commission of Veterans Affairs Officer Ed Gaudet to repair his leaky roof.
Home Depot in Clinton donated all the materials for the project, and volunteers were fellow veterans from the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association.
“Ed did his job over [in Vietnam], and came back here to volunteer his time [with the commission] to help others,” said Jeff Kilburg of Clinton, a combat veteran and member of the Combat Veterans. “He’s helped so many people over the years, for free. I’m happy to be here … it’s a way for us to return the favor.”
Deney said the association also has installed nine wheelchair ramps at the homes of area veterans, at least one of which was in DeWitt.
He encourages residents to come downtown June 15 and get to know some of the veterans on the ride.
“It’ll be a great time,” Deney said. “Everyone will be there to support a good cause and just have fun. We’re just there to support local veterans.
“As a whole, we’re a group of combat veterans who enjoy riding motorcycles and assisting other veterans in need. For me, personally, it’s just enjoying the feeling of helping people and seeing how grateful they are. And, you can relate to them, which makes it all the more satisfying.”