Story/Photos by Smiles
The Wounded Vets Run is the culmination of a dream, an inspiration by one man in Boston. With a desire to bring awareness to critically wounded vets who have served in the wars overseas, the dream of the Wounded Vets Run came to life.
The run originated in Boston in 2011 and was originally inspired by Cpl Vincent Mannion Brodeur, who is one of the most severely wounded veterans in America. The recipient of the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, Vinnie was critically injured by an IED while serving in Iraq. Surviving 40 plus surgeries and a yearlong coma, he has become a huge inspiration for many Americans. Cpl Brodeur was the first recipient of the Boston Wounded Vets Run in 2011, and this was just the start of what has culminated into a multi-state, annual event. The BWVR has expanded to several different cities/states throughout the country, including Phoenix. Early in March, the 2nd annual Phoenix Wounded Vets Run was held with spectacular turnout in support. Close to 400 bikes (not including passengers, and people who showed up at the end party) were a part of the ride this year. This is up from approximately 150 bikes last year, during the inaugural run. It was a beautiful morning and a great ride from Peoria, through the Sonoran desert of the North Phoenix Valley, ending up at the concert lot at Harley Davidson of Scottsdale.
A big part of this ride was all the riders who flew out here from Boston to support this! They were out here last year in support as well, and as soon as that ride was complete, they already had plans in motion to be out here again this year. Hotel and motorcycle reservations were being made barely before they could close the books on the inaugural event! They even had one of their own bring out her own sewing machine and set up shop, sewing ride patches (and anything else) right on site at the end party. Of course, I also can’t fail to mention their own local photographer who makes it to many, if not all, of the Wounded Vets Run rides (lovingly known as “The Digital Sniper”). You guys sure know how to support!!!
The recipient of this year’s Phoenix Wounded Vets run is Brad Ivancan. Brad served as a Marine and served through 3 deployments. He was deployed to Iraq, the South Pacific, and Afghanistan. During his deployment in Afghanistan, he was a machine gun squad leader, conducting day and night foot patrols in Sangin’s southern green zone.
On June 13th, 2012 while on patrol, Brad stepped on a pressure plate of a 15 – 20 pound I.E.D, which resulted in both his legs getting blown off. That same night, 2 other Marines were seriously wounded and one was killed. This was obviously a devastating blow to the 9 man team. Two days later, Brad woke up in a hospital in Germany, realizing his world had forever been changed.
All the monies raised from the PWVR 2015 run will be donated to Brad for his expenses or charity of his choice. Also during the end party, awareness was made to Veterans who have lost their lives to suicide. A staggering statistic had been brought to attention that on average, 22 veterans are killed every day through suicide. A mission has been created to bring this awareness more to the forefront of the public eye. This mission is called 22 Kill (www.22kill.com ). Joe Stazione, founder and event coordinator of the PWVR, has committed to bringing advocacy to 22 Kill through the efforts of the Phoenix Wounded Vets Run.
Joe talked about 22 Kill, and called forth brothers representing the several patches that were there in support of the PWVR and of 22 Kill. 22 Kill has set a goal of having 22 million pushups completed, to honor all veterans who have served. Standing up front with Joe were brothers of the Infidel Nation, American Infidels (from California, Texas, and Boston), the Lost Dutchmen, the Green Knights, the Ghosts of Freedom (from California) and CMA (Christian Motorcycle Assoc.). On Joe’s queue, all these men led everyone in attendance, by hitting the ground and pounding out 22 pushups. I know of a few that had pretty hard core adrenaline going and after hearing Joe’s speeches they didn’t quite stop at 22! What a sight to see!! Huge comradery and brotherhood, in living example, was being displayed.
The end party was held at Harley Davidson of Scottsdale, where Madison Rising was invited to perform. Billed as “America’s Most Patriotic Rock Band”, these guys sure do know how to put one hell of a spin on good old fashion rock and roll!! They blew the roof off the place! And they put a patriotic spin on it, as promised in their billing. Thanks go out to all their loyal fans and local businesses who came through in donations to ensure these guys could come out here to perform.
One of the raffle donations to this event was a DPMS M4 rifle, donated by BoF Arms. This is a spectacular piece of machinery, and a very generous donation. A somber fact about this particular donation is that Sean Chrisman, co-owner with his wife, Molly, of BoF Arms, passed away unexpectedly only days before this event. Sean was a Veteran himself, and was very dedicated to the 22 Kill mission. He showed his dedication to this in part by displaying 22 American Flags in his front yard, representing the 22 Vets who lose their lives daily. SSgt Chrisman “received the Purple Heart for wounds received in Fallujah during July 2005. His other awards include the Army Achievement Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Sharpshooter Marksmanship Medal” (credit to The Fountain Hill Times).
Salute to you, SSgt Chrisman. May you eternally rest in peace.