Serving Those Who Served

STAR Vets“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away,” said General Douglas MacArthur. Unlike MacArthur, the Ohio Veterans Home (OVH) Sandusky, Ohio, was founded on the belief that our war heroes are vulnerable mortal men and need tender loving care. Cleveland Chapter 178 has taken up the cause of these veterans during their 2nd annual July ride to raise donations to the OVH’s Resident Benefit Fund.

Since it was founded in 1888 with the 17 original Civil War veterans, more than 50,000 veterans have passed through the facility. Today, over 600 veterans live at the home with over 400 living in the nursing home and the remainder in the domiciliary.

In 2006 Chapter 178 raised $1,000 for the home. This year under the leadership of Jan Petrek, Chapter President, the chapter doubled its donation by raising $2,000. She was assisted by her team of chapter officers, Tim O’Hara, Vice President; Rena O’Hara, Secretary; and Rhonda Caldwell, Treasurer. Jan’s husband, and past President, Joe Petrek, lended his expertise and experience from the previous year’s event. The chapter’s efforts were coordinated with the Activities Department at the home.

Chapter 178’s charity ride on July 7, 2007 used the ground level parking lot at Cleveland’s VA Hospital, The Louis Stokes Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 10702 East Boulevard, Cleveland, as the gathering and departure point for the ride. VA hospital chaplain, Rev. Cecelia Williams, gave a prayer blessing of the riders and some 50 motorcycles to launch the ride.

A coordinated police escort was provided by hospital police, the Cuyahoga and Lorain County Sheriff’s Departments, and Perkins Township police. The OVH is 60 miles west of Cleveland on Ohio Route 250 in Sandusky, Ohio. Another 30 bikes arrived from west of Sandusky using Scheits Yamaha Dealership in Fremont, Ohio, as their departure point. Another chapter sponsor and Yamaha dealer, Cleveland-Akron Honda, helped the chapter raise money by donating hotdogs and refreshments several Saturdays through out the summer so the chapter could hold cookouts at the dealership to raise donations.

The chapter volunteers cooked and served a picnic lunch to wheelchair bound residents of the nursing home and the motorcyclists in addition to raising the cash donation. Prizes donated by the chapter’s Yamaha dealer sponsors and local merchants were given away in a raffle.

As the chapter members think ahead to next year’s event, another memorable quote from the old soldier, General MacArthur, comes to mind. Chapter 178 pledges to the Ohio Veterans Home heroes, “I shall return!”

Roger Hicks
Chapter 178 Vet Rep
Registered Nurse, Louis Stokes VA Medical Center

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