August 17, 2015
ALTMAR - The Oswego County ATV Club recently hosted more than 300 military veterans and their guests for its inaugural "Ride for Veterans." The event honored wounded domestic and foreign war veterans for their service to our country.
The group left the Tailwater Lodge in Altmar and enjoyed a scenic 14-mile ride along Barclay Trail to Kasoag Lake before they returned to the group's clubhouse in Altmar for a luncheon.
"We had a tremendous turnout for this first-ever event," said Steve Cronk, president of the Oswego County ATV Club. "Veterans from every war or conflict this country has been involved in for the last 70 years came out, including an 88-year-old World War II veteran and a 72-year-old veteran from the Korean War." Brian Wells, a native of the state of Washington, is a veteran who has relocated to this area with his family after being stationed at Fort Drum in Watertown. "I grew up riding ATVs back home, but haven't been on one in over a decade," he said. "I'm really looking forward to the ride and just having some good fun today." Wells and the rest of veterans had the chance to enjoy the great outdoors in Oswego County thanks to the efforts of club members, various veterans' organizations and community support.
One such organization is the Watertown Vet Center, an activity of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This small community-based counseling facility provides re-adjustment counseling to war zone veterans and their families. The group's focus includes helping those dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sexual trauma.
"There is definitely a therapeutic value for our veterans in their pursuit of outdoor recreational activities, whether it is riding ATVs, fishing, skiing, golfing, or other interests," said James Sheets, an outreach specialist with the center.
Other veterans arrived from throughout the Northeast, including Connecticut and Vermont, with Danny Rodriguez, outreach coordinator with the Wounded Warrior Project.
"We usually organize fishing trips, but this was a unique new opportunity for our veterans to do something a little different in the great outdoors," said Rodriguez. "The number of people coming out today really demonstrates our need to build more events here in the central and northern New York area."
The event was made possible thanks to the hard work and dedication of the club's members as well as the generous contributions from the community, including American Legion Post 61 in Watertown, H. Douglas Barclay, Bimbo-Stroehmann Bakery, Blue Star Ice, Byrne Dairy, C/T Grass, Dirt and Snow, FX Caprara Outdoor Toy Store, Gregory and Karen Oakes, Pepsi Beverage Company, Pulaski-Boylston Snowmobile Club, Millie Skinner, The Tailwater Lodge, and Wheel-A-Way Motorsports.
"The support from the community has been encouraging. So many people came out to volunteer their time or machines, in addition to the generous donations we received from businesses and individuals," said Cronk.
For more information about the ride or the Oswego County ATV Club, call Steve Cronk at 315-298-3312 or Mary Gaffey at 315-298-5444.
GETTING BACK ON THE TRAIL - Veteran Brian Wells grew up riding ATVs in his home state of Washington. The ride gave him and many other vets the chance to enjoy time in Oswego County's great outdoors.
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