Why I Ride – Mike “Lone Star” Christenson

“Unless you have experienced the Patriots Pack brotherhood, it is very hard to describe the deep feeling you have about the pure joy you have during this event. The experience begins from the time you get up and gather for another leg of the ride, meeting strangers who want to hear your story and get a picture with the group, to riding up to a destination and seeing the excitement of everyone there to greet you.  The way people want to hear why you are riding and telling stories of their own and becoming a part of a memory of the journey.

Then there is purpose of the ride… losing my mother to cancer, the Ride for Jillian is very close to my heart. Honoring The Jillian Fund and raising support for the foundation along with commemorating the veterans all culminates into something very special. It’s the biggest ride of your life. There is such a joy in bringing the Pack to the destination along with all the memories of the journeys each year. I am so proud to be a part of the Pack and each and every time I ride, I wear the patch with pride!”

Why I Ride – Simon “Fish” Vermooten

“As a new member of the Patriots Pack, I am honored to be associated with this group and its noteworthy causes. I have many motives for participating in ‘The Ride’, beginning with the principle of keeping a commitment. During my first encounter with Mike Stramaglio, we got on the subject of bikes and he proceeded to share stories about the annual ride which I had wanted to do and now have the opportunity to do so!  This ties into my second motive, fellowship. Over the years I have had the privilege of meeting most of – if not all – the guys and I can’t think of a better way to create life-long bonds than joining the pack.

My last two motives – to honor the fallen and support the good – also link together. It’s very important to honor the fallen and those who serve. As a veteran of another country’s war, I can relate to current servicemen and veterans. I was able to return home to my loved ones without too much physical or mental damage which I consider myself extremely blessed. When it comes to supporting the good, The Jillian Fund embodies that perfectly. Being a parent with children (now in their early twenties), I couldn’t image having to deal with a child suffering from a life-threatening illness. I can, however, do something to help those who are dealing with such adversity.”

Why I Ride – David “GQ” Clearman

“There are many reasons why I enjoy participating in ‘The Ride’ to Washington,
D.C. every year. From a group perspective, the bonds of brotherhood that were formed by the Patriots Pack has been nothing short of incredible. With us, it’s much more than just a bunch of guys riding across the country on bikes; it’s about the comradery that has been shaped from a common purpose – to play a role in something much bigger than ourselves.

On a more intimate level, riding in honor of The Jillian Fund and Rolling Thunder is very personal for me. It’s one of the best ways I can think of to remember both of parents who I lost to cancer. Also, my father was a Navy veteran who participated in every major battle in the South Pacific during WWII which gives me a great platform with others to commemorate his service along with the rest of our veterans.”

The Ride Known As Life

Life is one of those words in humanity’s dialect that is much denser than its given definition perceives. From a linguistic perspective, life encompasses many things on a paradoxical spectrum. It is a culmination of wonderful things like joy, happiness, serenity, and light; however, life does not limit itself to just positivity. Unfortunately, it tends to bring forth sorrow, unforeseen hardships, adversity, and darkness.

Perhaps the frequent highs and lows, the successes and struggles are why life is so popularly compared to a roller coaster ride. But do you know what else life has in common with roller coaster rides? People. In making this simile a thematical point, life is one continuous roller coaster ride that we are all experiencing for the first time. The unpredictable twists and turns, subtle risings and swift droppings that you encounter are not isolated because there are others on the same ride who will encounter those exact extremities by your side. Because no one should have to feel alone on their ride, the impact of people moving towards a unified direction is beyond measure.

One of the most difficult drops to experience in life happens to also be one of the most common. Eye-opening research from the American Cancer Society states that cancer will affect one out of every two males and one out of every three females at some point during their lifetimes. While modern medicine vigorously makes leaps and bounds to close the gap on cancer’s edge, simply relying on scientific avenues alone are not good enough. It requires people coming together and establishing organizations like The Jillian Fund to truly make a difference in the lives of those going through the downward parts of their ride.

The Jillian Fund is a charitable organization created by George Gorman in honor of his daughter, Jillian Gorman. Approximately eight years ago, Jillian was shocked by a diagnosis which read that she had developed an aggressive form of blood cancer. Though courageously and valiantly fought, she lost her three-and-a-half-year battle with cancer. Understanding that no child should fight this battle alone, George started the organization as a way to help out families who are burdened from such tragedies; therefore, the organization’s objective is to provide financial support for families during times of life-threatening crises to allow them to focus on supporting their sick children.

The ride of life is already a daunting and challenging task in itself; therefore, no one should have to endure it alone. The power of community formed by people willing to make a positive impact and lessening the burden on others cannot be properly valued. It is because of people that life – through the highs and lows – is defined. Life may be good at times and it may be bad at times, but because of people and organizations like The Jillian Fund, life is ultimately defined as beautiful.