You made it to the best place that snowmobiling can offer to anyone. Our Disabled Veterans enjoy this sport as much as anyone. ISSA is proud to be a part in sharing our sport with our Disabled Veterans. Please join us for our annual ride. Read on for more information.
2018 ISSA DISABLED VETERANS RIDE
Francis Wallace Snowmobile Parking Lot on Warren Wagon Road, McCall, Idaho
March 10, 2018
If you haven’t been able to attend any of the ISSA Disabled Veteran’s Rides, you are most certainly missing out! There is nothing greater than to see this particular group of people enjoying their day on a snowmobile. It truly humbles me to witness firsthand what they have sacrificed for our freedom. We owe them so much! Veterans have sacrificed their time, families, and health, and some have paid the ultimate price – their lives for our freedom. Each Veteran has dedicated their lives to our country and deserves to be recognized for their commitment. This day and this ride is all about them! The McCall Area Snowmobile Club, along with ISSA, Search and Rescue, and many businesses and organizations came together to give them a day they will not forget!
There is not enough room to list all those that contributed to this incredible event. A huge thanks goes to the McCall Snowmobile Club for all their time in planning and preparation that went into making this event possible. Without them, this event would not take place. Many thanks go to Josh Callahan, a disabled Veteran himself, who works at the Veterans Administration and puts together the group of riders each year.
This year there were 37 disabled Veterans that rode out of Francis Wallace parking lot above McCall. They were welcomed with donuts, hot chocolate and coffee while they were matched with their volunteer riders and sleds. The sleds, equipment and gear were donated by Cheap Thrills Rental in McCall and individuals from the area Snowmobile Clubs. This year, “The Missing Man Table “was displayed by the front entrance as a reminder of those who were not here with us. Numerous Veterans made comments about how important it was to them to have this symbolistic table there as a memorial to those that could not be there to share this day. Many of these Veterans had been standing shoulder to shoulder with brothers that were lost.
Some of the Veterans enjoyed riding into Bergdorf Hot Springs where they were able to soak and play in the pools at no charge as a thank you from the owners. Others enjoyed playing in the meadows and riding through the Payette Foresttaking in the incredible winter scenery.
My very first experience on the Disabled Veterans Ride several years ago will always serve as a poignant reminder to me of the reality of what they have lost.
When we first arrived, I was surprised at how well all of these disabled Veterans were able to ride and play in the snow. With the exception of some PTSD from the back fire of a sled, everyone seemed healthy and happy and as agile as I was. As we prepared to get into the Hot Springs at Burgdorf, they changed into swimsuits. Numerous Veterans removed their prosthetic limbs and their various battle scars were bared for all to see. Scars from shrapnel, bullets, bombs and entire torsos covered in burns. These were the medals they wore as comfortably as if they were pinned to their clothing. I fought back tears. Their personal sacrifice was incredible!!
Disabled Veterans are just words and they do no justice to what the reality is. These men and women sacrificed themselves for me, someone they didn’t even know for my freedom, and I was looking at what that truly meant. It was a moment that I will never forget. I will always remember that every man or woman that serves our country could be carrying scars under their clothing, or inside where we can’t see and we owe them all of our respect and gratitude and so much more!
I was very excited this year to be able to volunteer again, and was matched up with Kari, a female disabled Veteran from Boise. My husband, Mike Klanderud, and Valley County Parks and Recreation Director, Larry Laxson, and myself all headed out with our “Special Veteran”. We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her and spending our day together.
Our goal was to make this day all about her! She is a very special person. I have been able to remain in contact with her and look forward to continuing our friendship and riding with her again next year.
After returning back to the Francis Wallace parking lot, a delicious meal was served to everyone courtesy of many volunteers and businesses who donated to the event. Our Veterans were able to relax, mingle together and share their experiences. It is so incredible to watch them smile and become animated as they tell their story of the day.
It is my hope that this erases some of their pain and challenges, at least for a little while. Each year there are a few more Veterans that we add to the ride, and each vowed they are coming again next year! I always hope they do!