Update on the Defenders of Freedom RideAfter 15 Years and over $100,000 collected to directly benefit wounded, at risk & fallen veterans and their families, I have had to make the regrettable and very sad decision to end organizing Colorado’s Longest Law Enforcement Escorted Motorcycle Charity Parade, the Annual Defenders of Freedom: Veterans Recognition Ride.
Despite collecting over $9,000 in 2022 to benefit the El Paso County Homeless Veterans Coalition (EPCHVC), the severely dwindling ride participation in recent years can no longer justify the hundreds of hours volunteered to plan, coordinate & organize this event in conjunction with the Law Enforcement Escort and numerous governmental entities necessary to coordinate with for permits & permissions.
This, combined with the El Paso County Homeless Veterans Coalition being forced after 25 Years to cease organizing its Annual Stand Down & All Volunteer, No Profit Efforts to End Veteran Homelessness in the Pikes Peak Region, seemed a synchronistic time to also end the single largest event that benefits the EPCHVC and to which I have devoted much of my personal time & treasure over the past 15 plus years.
Back in 2007, when I was moved by the plight of my fellow veterans returning severely wounded or not at all from the Global War on Terror to begin planning the first ride, Armed Forces Day was a virtually unremembered and unrecognized holiday in the Pikes Peak Region and thus Armed Forces Weekend became for me the obvious choice for this recognition charity ride.
Inspired by the past efforts of others, I had originally intended this ride to be a onetime event fundraiser to assist my fellow veterans. However, encouraged by the nearly 300 participants that first ride in May 2008, the Defenders of Freedom: Veterans Recognition Ride became an annual event with hundreds of participants typically numbering over 500, and at one point even over 600, each year from all over the United States.
In addition to raising donations, one of my goals was to shine a spotlight on the issue of our country’s wounded, fallen and at risk Veterans often suffering through homelessness and other serious physical & mental challenges with little assistance at that time from the government & country they served. The height of our attempts to spotlight these issues came in 2016 when we received national recognition on the Fox News program “The Five”.
I remain greatly appreciative beyond words to all the generous sponsors over the years like 15 Year Sponsor Berwick Electric, Rector Stuzynski Law Firm, Olsen Plumbing & Heating, The City of Fountain & Fountain Police Department, The American Legion Riders Post 209 and the VFW Warriors as well as my small group of wonderful volunteers who always helped pull things together and make this event a success each year.
About the Defenders of Freedom RideThe Defenders of Freedom ride is a recognition and tribute to honor all the men and women who serve or have served in any of the five branches of the U.S. Military, especially to those who have been wounded or have lost their lives in service to our country, and recognizes those currently serving at the military installations in the Pikes Peak Region (Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, Schreiver Air Force Base, U.S. Air Force Academy and NORAD/NorthCom).
Since the first ride in 2008, U.S. Army Veteran and Colorado Springs Realtor® Brian L. A. Wess has organized this NO PROFIT, ALL VOLUNTEER EVENT that has raised and donated tens of thousands of dollars through a low speed, law enforcement escorted, side by side procession of motorcycles throughout El Paso County (Colorado) for the benefit of charities that directly benefit our fallen, severely wounded and at risk military veterans and their families.
740 KVOR-AM Our Town Interview
with Brian Wess about 2019 Ride
Includes up to 2 riders
Note: CASH ONLY!
6436 So Hwy 85/87
|Pikes Peak Int'l Raceway
16650 Midway Ranch Rd
|Peaks N Pines Brewery
212 W Illinois Ave
* Additional Donations Encouraged & Appreciated *
* Current Year Ride Pins Given to All Registered Riders *
* Must register and sign-in to receive Ride Pin *
* Limited quantities of previous year pins are available *
(click on any of the pins to view a larger image)
Proceeds From The RideThe proceeds from this year's ride will benefit the El Paso County Homeless Veterans Coalition. The EPCHVC is an IRS 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded in 1998 with a focus on assisting Homeless Veterans and their families in Colorado Springs & El Paso County improve their situations by providing access to both long and short term solution based resources through their annual "Stand Down" events, Transitional Housing Program and New Veteran Homeless Prevention Program.
For more information, visit the More Info page or contact:
Brian L.A. Wess - Coordinator/Founder