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Story Archives: Benefit raises funds for riders to attend soldiers' funerals
|Benefit raises funds for riders to attend soldiers' funerals|
What started out several years ago as a combined party for a few friends with May birthdays, this year became a charity event to raise money for the Patriot Guard Riders.
After all the expenses are paid, Terry Simmons of Crowville expects to donate approximately $4,000 to the nonprofit organization of motorcycle riders who attend the funerals of those killed in combat.
"We started about five or six years ago for some birthdays and over the years it just got bigger and bigger," said Simmons.
So big, in fact, that Simmons and his wife, Becky, thought if 100 people are going to attend a birthday party, they should make it for a good cause.
"Last year we said we'd like to have a poker run to raise some money for something," Simmons said.
Simmons said many of their friends are motorcycle riders and some are veterans, so raising money for the Patriot Guard Riders was a natural choice.
"I went to the Web site (www.patriotriders.org) and signed up," he said. "I talked to my wife about it and we decided to have a benefit and charge a flat rate."
So, the first annual May Day Crawfish Boil/Poker Run To Benefit the Patriot Guard Riders, held May 17, emerged when Terry and Becky Simmons decided to take a birthday party which had become a well-attended tradition, and turn it into a benefit for a good cause.
Simmons said about 150 people attended the event, held on the front yard of their home on Crockett Point Road in Crowville.
Motorcycle enthusiasts from Monroe to Vidalia drove in for the event, which included crawfish, a live band, a poker run and games. Souvenir t-shirts were also sold to raise funds.
Simmons said they are already talking about how to prepare for next year's event.
"This year I didn't advertise because I didn't want it to get too big to handle. Word got around and I got a call from south Louisiana, from Lake Charles. They said, 'We heard what you were doing and we will bring 30 or 40 people up,' " Simmons said.
"We had several veterans here who said they really appreciate what we were doing and hoped we'd continue," Simmons said. "We've gotten a lot of positive feedback and we're going to keep doing it."
If the number of people planning to attend next year keeps growing, Simmons said they'll probably have to find a bigger location, "… somewhere other than my front yard."