Giving back to our veterans

‘Ride and Drive With Vets for Paws & Effect’ event July 29

T-R PHOTO BY JEFF HUTTON
Herschel Edwards, left, and Nick Salasek, are once again coordinating this year’s “Ride and Drive With Vets for Paws & Effect” event set for Saturday, July 29.

T-R PHOTO BY JEFF HUTTON Herschel Edwards, left, and Nick Salasek, are once again coordinating this year’s “Ride and Drive With Vets for Paws & Effect” event set for Saturday, July 29.

A desire to serve those who have served others is at the heart of an upcoming fundraiser for an organization that harnesses “the power of the human-animal bond, facing challenges and hurdles with the hope that at every opportunity, we will take a moment and make a difference.”

That’s the concept behind the Second annual “Ride And Drive With Vets For Paws & Effect” set for Saturday, July 29.

Two Marshalltown veterans and motorcycle enthusiasts, Herschel Edwards and Nick Salasek, are returning to coordinate the event — something they hope might help combat veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and mobility issues. Partnering with Paws & Effect, a pet partner organization in Des Moines, Edwards and Salasek raised enough money last year — $16,600 — to groom and train a service dog that went toward a veteran in need.

They want to repeat that effort in 2017.

“We know these service dogs completely changes people’s lives,” said Salasek.

“And I think it’s (the public’s) way to connect or help the veteran community or someone else with PTSD,” added Edwards.

Last year’s effort was a resounding success, and the first of its kind for the community as well as Edwards and Salasek, who are both members of the local American Legion Riders chapter.

But in 2017, Edwards and Salasek want to do more, and raise more money — the unofficial goal of at least $22,000.

Both men cited the the number 22 – that’s how many veterans commit or attempt suicide every day. Many of those veterans are suffering from PTSD.

The event, while having a serious message, is designed to be fun.

Participating motorcyclists (as well as those operating their own cars) will meet from 9-11 a.m. Saturday, July 29 at the Iowa Veterans Home. Kickstands will go up at 11 a.m. Motorcyclists will travel one way, cars the other direction on a pre-determined route, which includes mainly stops at American Legion posts through northern Central Iowa. All participants will meet over the lunch hour at the American Legion post in Ackley. Drivers and motorcyclists will then continue on the route and head back to the American Legion post in Marshalltown.

There, drivers and riders will enjoy food by Smokin’ G’s, live music, a silent auction, 50/50 raffle, general raffle, and a chance to name one of the new puppies that will be eventually become a service dog for a very deserving recipient. The American Legion Lounge will also be open at that time.

For more information, go to www.paws-effect.org, the American Legion Riders Post 46 Marshalltown on Facebook as well finding event information at www.facebook.com/events/644465879096336

For more information or to make a contribution or donation, contact Edwards at (641) 691-6495 or h.allenedwards@gmail.com; and Salasek at (641) 750-6177 or via email at salasekn@gmail.com

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Contact Jeff Hutton at 641-753-6611 or jhutton@timesrepublican.com