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Motorcycle ride to move through Wadena; Local organizers hope for as many as 200 bikes

Jim White, adjutant for the Wadena VFW, said Tuesday that the post will be hosting one stop for a May motorcycle ride, which has been organized by the state VFW office and will traverse all of Minnesota.

The Ride of Healing is intended to raise funds for an education center to become part of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., as well as recognize Vietnam vets in greater Minnesota.

According to a state VFW press release, the riders are divided into five “teams” with different routes. Wadena will host “Charlie Team” as it travels from Saint Paul toward the Brainerd area. Cragun’s Resort near Brainerd and the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds will host the culmination of the ride from May 31 to June 2, during which an event is planned to include speeches, a banquet and flyovers of military aircraft.

The Wadena event is scheduled for May 30 from 4-5 p.m. at the VFW. The riders will stay overnight in Wadena motels.

During an event meeting at the VFW Tuesday, White said the specifics regarding what the Wadena rally will consist of are still being planned. VFW Post 3922 has organized an Honor Ride for the local National Guard unit and the Yellow Ribbon Fund since 2003, but White said nothing like the statewide Ride of Healing has come through Wadena before. He guessed that by the time the Ride of Healing arrives in Wadena, the participants will outnumber the Honor Ride.

“I’m probably putting my expectations a little high, but I’m hoping for at least 200 bikes and riders,” White said.

The process of setting up the stop in Wadena began when the VFW’s post commander received a letter from the state commander’s office asking if Wadena could be a “rally point” for the ride.

“We responded, said ‘Yes … you have the full commitment of the post, and we will not let the veterans in this area down,” White recalled.

Mayor Wayne Wolden said he is a motorcyclist himself, and was pleased to hear of the new rally coming through town. Generally speaking, charity motorcycle rallies are good both for causes they benefit directly and for the local economy, he said.

“It’s a great way to bring people into your community; to be able to experience the town,” Wolden said. “It’s an economic development tool. It helps local businesses to capitalize from selling gas, food, those sorts of things.”