Gainesville community gathers to celebrate the 20th Annual Bikers on Parade

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Food trucks, live music, and motorcycle engines revving, all to celebrate the 20th annual Bikers on Parade, an event presented by the American Hometown Veteran Assist to fundraise money to help local and state military veterans and first responders.

The event took place on Sunday and began at 8 a.m. at Santa Fe College and ended at the Gainesville Raceway, where there was a celebration of veterans and first responders through food trucks and live music from local Gainesville artists Clay Brooker and Cliff Dorsey, who both performed popular country songs.

Bikers on Parade started in 2001 and has been celebrated annually until COVID struck last year and they had to take a year off, but the parade is back and here to stay. The planning this year took four months to put together and included a team of around 35 people. BOP has a committee consisting of 10 people that work on making this event possible and this year, around 25 outside volunteers joined the cause.

“I saw the vision and the team is what got the mission done,” said Travis Harvey, president of AHVA and organizer of the event.

AHVA is a non-profit organization that helps veterans and first responders navigate financial difficulties and get them back on their feet. They help first responders in school through local scholarships and provide clothes and services like fixing cars for all veterans.

Below an American flag stirring in the wind, motorcycles were lined up and displayed over the area of a large parking lot at the venue, people were able to walk through the aisles of all the different bikes and take a look at them.

There were over 200 riders that participated in the event, participants paid $20 per biker and $10 per passenger, all of these proceeds were donated for local and state veterans as well as a portion of the sales from the food trucks at the event. The food trucks included pizza from DB’s Rolling Dough and Thai food from Eim Thai food truck. Burkhardt also donated beer.

The large venue was filled with all the family, friends and veterans in attendance as well as tents from different associations such as the Milton Lewis Young Marines, who teaches boys and girls between the ages of eight and 18 “self-confidence, and living a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.”

Among these tents was Outdoor Valor, a non-profit organization that provides a fully guided fishing experience at no expense for all veterans. They specialize in veterans with PTSD therapy. “Our motto is freeing the minds of our warfighters one fish at a time” Matt Schwanke, president of Outdoor Valor said. The other tents scattered throughout the event space also included companies like Vitas and Everan technologies, which works with neurostimulation to treat veterans with PTSD.

Between riders, family and friends, there were roughly 300 people in attendance, all there to support veterans in need.

“I got a lot of friends who served and I’ve seen what they have sacrificed and give up to serve and so I do what I can for them… My appreciation, you know, is just huge,” said Jacob Lane, an event attendee.

The event wrapped up at around 4 p.m and raised over $20,000 for local and state veterans.

Corrections appended: A previous version of this story misstated that the group provides scholarships to veterans instead of first responders and that beer trucks sold the beer.

About Ariana Rios

Ariana is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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