Making a difference together, with Operation Round Up
Don’t be fooled by their leather vests, jackets and chaps. The Freedom Riders of North Dakota Motorcycle Club members might look tough — but they have tender hearts.
For the past 40 years, members have shared their passion for riding, building brotherhood and serving the community. With assistance from local business and organizations, the Freedom Riders have raised and given a substantial amount of money to two charities dear to their hearts: Carrie’s Kids, a volunteer ministry that works to assist Carrie Grosz in creating a safe and learning environment for children and teens, and the local Adam Klein chapter of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), a nonprofit charity that provides a lifetime of support for veterans and their families.
Capital Electric Cooperative is one of many businesses that has given donations to the Freedom Riders over the years. In February, the Freedom Riders applied for and received an Operation Round Up grant, courtesy of participating cooperative members. The money will be given to the DAV, which assists local veterans with transportation to medical appointments at the Fargo VA Medical Center.
Marty Presler, a veteran and longtime member of the Freedom Riders, is a Capital Electric Cooperative member who was familiar with the Operation Round Up program, in which electric cooperative members round up their monthly utility bills to the nearest dollar and donate their change to local individuals, groups or charities with a specific need. He filled out the paperwork for the grant on behalf of the club, and accepted the check at a ceremony at cooperative headquarters. For many years, Presler has helped spearhead fundraising efforts for the Freedom Riders and says its members feel strongly about helping those who suffer in the community.
For almost a decade, the club’s near-50 members have volunteered their time to collect donations and auction items for a live auction held in conjunction with their annual Freedom Riders Bike Show held in April.
“Our first auction donated a humble $16,000. Now, the auction and raffle have grown to $70,000,” Presler says. “Over the last 9 years, the Freedom Riders have raised and given away almost $400,000 — and all of it has stayed right here in our community, going directly to the DAV Adam Klein Chapter and Carrie’s Kids.”
Presler says the amount has grown as people have become more aware of what the Freedom Riders are doing and where the proceeds are going. The Freedom Riders started supporting the local DAV years ago, when the organization lost federal funding. Many of the club’s members, who are veterans themselves, didn’t want the loss to affect local veterans so they decided to provide assistance.
“Without the volunteer work of the Freedom Riders and without donations from local businesses and organizations, the local DAV program would suffer,” Presler continues. “Local businesses and organizations are the key to our auction success. We need their support in providing donations and auction items. Capital Electric is one of the organizations that provides us that support, and the Freedom Riders greatly appreciate this Operation Round Up grant.”
For information on the Freedom Riders of North Dakota Motorcycle Club, visit www.freedomridersnd.com. To learn more about Carrie’s Kids, go to www.carrieskids.com. To learn more about Disabled American Veterans, visit www.dav.org and click on “Find Your Local Office.”