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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Bikers to visit veterans home each month

  • It's called Bikers Rallying Around Veterans Everywhere, BRAVE for short, but it's open to anyone who wants to visit residents of the Missouri Veterans Home in St. James regularly.
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  • It's called Bikers Rallying Around Veterans Everywhere, BRAVE for short, but it's open to anyone who wants to visit residents of the Missouri Veterans Home in St. James regularly.
    And the first visit is this Saturday, Sept. 7.
    "It is not strictly a biker organization, although that's in the name," founder Mark Williams, former detective sergeant with the Phelps County Sheriff's Department, said. "You can ride in on a motorcycle, ride a bicycle, drive a car or walk. We don't care. Just come."
    So far about 20 motorcycle riders have indicated they'll join Williams at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the north parking lot of the Missouri Veterans Home.
    "Saturday is the Grape and Fall Festival, and we're going to help the vets get outside to watch the parade," Williams said. "Afterwards we'll spend more time visiting with them. Then we're going one Saturday a month to spend time at the Veterans Home, just to say thanks and to visit."
    Although Williams is a ride captain with the Patriot Guard Riders, BRAVE is not a part of that organization.
    "It is not an offshoot of the Patriot Guards," Williams said. "It's an idea I got when I went to the veterans home for the Legacy Ride."
    That was a ride sponsored by the American Legion, where riders started in Indianapolis, Ind., and finished in Houston, Texas. They made a rest stop at the Missouri Veterans Home in St. James for barbecue and music and visiting before spending the night in a Rolla hotel.
    Williams said visiting with the veterans by the Legacy Riders and local bikers who showed up to support the endeavor started him to thinking about regular visits with the veterans.
    He spoke to Robert Hawn, a St. James and district officer in the American Legion, who encouraged him to make the first visit by BRAVE bikers on the Grape and Fall Festival parade date.
    Williams added that he will coordinate the visit with social service personnel in the Missouri Veterans Home.
    "We'll follow whatever guidelines they give us," he said. "It's just a matter of visiting with the veterans, a way of giving back to them."
    Williams said the name is not specific to St. James or Rolla because he would like to see the idea spread beyond the borders of Phelps County.
    "We hope it spreads to other veterans homes in Missouri and the U.S.," Williams said.
    The organization already has a Facebook page.
    Can patches, banners, T-shirts, do-rags be far behind?
    "We'll address that when it happens," Williams said.
    He stressed, though, there will be no cost associated with being a part of BRAVE.
    "There will never be any dues or fees associated with it—ever," he said. "All we ask for is a little bit of time, one Saturday a month."
    Page 2 of 2 - Questions may be directed to Mark Williams by phone at 573-337-4802 or by e-mail at patriotcop223@gmail.com.
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