By Steve B. Brooks
American Legion Multi-Media Editor
SANBORN, NY -- Department of New York Commander Tim Van Patten joined National Commander Fang Wong and Legionnaires from across the country for the American Legion Riders Legacy Run pre-run rally on Aug. 20 -- where Sam Reeder, director of Post 1451's American Legion Riders chapter in Sanborn, watched seven months of work come together.
It should have been a perfect Monday, but Reeder’s father passed away earlier in the day, putting a damper on what was a fine moment for him and his cohorts. Still, the man who helped organize Post 1451’s role in this year’s Legacy Run, was at the pre-ride rally, serving as emcee and taking it all in.
“Words can’t describe how this feels,” said Reeder, who was planning on going on his first Legacy Run but will only be able to travel part of the way before returning home. “It’s really pretty overwhelming seeing how this all came together. It was a complete team effort. Every department within our post helped out.”
Reeder said he got the call in January from National Headquarters that Post 1451 would serve as the launching point for this year’s Legacy Run National Commander’s Ride. The post organized several excursions to area attractions – including Niagara Falls – Aug. 18 and 19. The post also opened up its doors for Riders at night, providing meals and concerts. Monday night was a spaghetti dinner for the more than 350 Ride participants.
Reeder said he breathed a sigh of relief as the night’s events came to an end. “But it’s not at all because we’re glad this is over,” he said. “It’s because it’s a sense of accomplishment.”
During the evening – which saw more than $40,000 donated to this year’s Legacy Run – Wong praised Legion Riders for their efforts in bringing in $3 million for the Legacy Fund since its inception. “Within the Legion family, the Legion has the (National Emergency Fund),” Wong said. “The Sons of The American Legion takes care of the Child Welfare Foundation. And the Legion Riders take care of the Legacy Fund.”
Other guests at the post included New York State Sen. George D. Maziarz, American Legion Past National Commander Tom Cadmus, National Executive Committeeman Charles I. Herschlag, various other district and county commanders, and a Hamburg, N.Y. resident Nick Stone, an OEF veteran who lost a leg when a nearby fellow soldier hit an IED in Afghanistan.
Also present was Melissa Lammerts, the widow of Army Staff Sgt. Michael S. Lammerts of Amherst, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in April 2011. Melissa brought her two young children – Savannah, 5, and Michael, 3 – with her to the event. “Those are two future recipients of the Legacy Scholarship Fund,” Reeder said.
On Aug. 21, the official start of the run, Riders made a stop at Niagara Falls and another stop in Salamanca, N.Y., at Post 535, before ending the day in Ohio, and then on to stops in Michigan and Indiana for the National Convention in Indianapolis.