2009 Warrior Ride

  • Published
  • By 2ndLt. Anthony J. Lesterson
  • 127th Public Affairs
Yesterday, a group of bikers took off from the Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., visitor's center parking lot on a four-day venture to ride for charity across Michigan. 

Thirteen men and women started their challenging ride just after 9 a.m. heading to Ann Arbor, Mich., one of four stopping points during the ride to raise money for the Corporal Christopher Kelly Willis Foundation.  The CCKWF is a charitable non-profit organization dedicated to a fallen Marine who deployed to Kuwait just before Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Corporal Willis, at age 24, died in an automobile accident shortly after returning to the States from his tour of duty on July 18, 2003, near Battle Creek, Mich. He was part of a Marine Reserve unit, Bridge Company Alpha, 6th Engineer Support Company, 4th Force Service Support Group, based out of Battle Creek. 

"This is a grass roots program that was started in 2005 to show support for other military families like the Corporal Willis family," said Jim Crandall, Navy veteran, rider and one of 14 sponsors. "This ride is a main source of income to provide donations to children for scholarships." 

The foundation is dedicated to funding college scholarships to the children of war veterans who were severely injured or lost their lives in combat operations. The organization started and made its first ride in 2005 with the support of select investors funding the rides and scholarships that would later be provided to the children. Donations from the charity have been made to other causes such as providing Iraqi children with school supplies, care packages to military members and the Marine Corps Ball. 

"This organization allows us the ability to provide an opportunity to children that have lost a parent or parents in combat to have a better life by helping to provide a quality education," said Ron Patti, rider, Marine Reservist and board member of CCKWF. 

The riders will be making overnight stops in Ann Arbor, Albion and Kalamazoo before making the final stride to Battle Creek, riding approximately 250 miles over the course of the event. The cyclists range from first time long-range riders to more experienced riders, one of whom recently competed in an Iron Man competition for cyclists. 

"I will be setting the pace to insure that all the riders stay together and everyone makes it," said Andrew Vidor, former Iron Man competitor. 

For more information on the Corporal Christopher Kelly Willis Foundation (CCKWF) visit: www.cckwf.org