Written by Diana Olmstead
Destination Harley-Davidson held their 4th Annual Rally for the Troops this past Saturday at their Tacoma dealership. Over 1000 bikes and riders from all across the Pacific Northwest, adorned with American flags, gathered to show their support of the men and women in our military who risk their lives to serve and protect our country and freedom. In addition, it was also the largest turnout of active military, many of them from Fort Lewis.
The Rally for the Troops is held each year to benefit the Fisher House on Fort Lewis. This home enables family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful times – during the hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury.
There is at least one Fisher House at every major military medical center. Annually, the Fisher House program serves more than 8,500 families and have made available more than two million days of lodging to military family members, saving them $60 million since the program originated in 1990.
Each house is designed to provide 8 to 21 suites that can accommodate 16 to 42 family members. They are professionally furnished and decorated, featuring a common kitchen, laundry facilities, spacious dining room and an inviting living room with library, and toys for children.
Destination H-D guarantees a donation of $10,000.00 to the Fisher House. This year the registration tables at the Rally brought in about $8500.00 in receipts and with pre-registration added in, Destination proudly achieved their goal of $10,000.00.
This year’s Rally for the Troops event was well organized and well orchestrated and it showed. In 2006, Ed Jr. began leading the ride and heading the safety meetings personally. His goal was to have a ride pace that promotes a tighter grouping, less rubber banding and to have riders that know where they are supposed to be at all times. That same year, Ed Jr. hired the Washington State Patrol and the City of Fife Police to ensure the safety and longevity of this event. Many riders this year took notice of these improvements, stating that entering the freeway was effortless as people saw the patrol cars and made their way accordingly.
A special thank you goes out to the Tacoma Chapter of HOG, who’s members spent countless hours soliciting pre-registrations, planning and executing parking duties and helping to plant and hang the hundreds of flags that decorated the parking lot.
Café Pacific provided the catering and did a masterful job serving a delicious steak and potato meal to over 1000 participants of the ride.
No Quarter, a Led Zeppelin cover band provided the entertainment. With the 16 x 20 stage, the massive stacks of speakers and the giant rolling generator to power them, it was quite a production.
By 3:00pm the staff at Destination Harley-Davidson had all the garbage emptied and their parking lot as well as the ones across the street spick and span!
FYI- Shirts and pins from the Rally for the Troops are still on sale at the shop. Last year some people left being owed shirts from the Rally. This year Destination H-D ordered and gave away over 500 shirts to people who asked for them that didn’t get them last year.