Rolling Thunder bike run roars through Lake County Oct. 14
Rolling Thunder’s 11th annual Never Forget Thunder Motorcycle Run to raise public awareness of missing military members is set for Oct. 14 starting in North Chicago and ending at the VFW in Lake Villa. | Special to the News-Sun
Updated: December 8, 2012 2:02AM
Rolling Thunder’s 11th annual Never Forget Thunder Motorcycle Run to raise public awareness of missing military members is set for Oct. 14 with riders starting at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago and ending at the VFW in Lake Villa.
“Rolling Thunder’s core mission is to remind citizens of America and our government that we have more than 90,000 servicemen and women who never returned home from war since WWII,” said Wayne Kirkpatrick, board chairman and charter member of Chapter 2 Illinois Rolling Thunder. “We have members who are non-veterans, as well as veterans of different armed services. We are a cross-section of patriotic Americans.”
Kirkpatrick said the number of missing military is based on Department.of Defense figure, updated annually. “Our purpose is to keep the pressure on our government to continue to search for our missing military.”
Illinois has three chapters with Chapter 2 headquartered in Fox Lake, serving the northwest suburbs. It is part of a nationwide organization that gathers every year on Memorial Day weekend in the parking lot of the Pentagon.
“We had more than 750,000 motorcycles parade down Constitution Avenue earlier this year. The streets are packed with spectators. Washington, D.C., is virtually shut down for this parade,” said Kirkpatrick, a 24-year Army veteran.
The local ride fits into the purpose of raising awareness about military MIA.
“We aren’t doing a traditional run, rather it’s a parade through the northwest suburbs, from North Chicago east through Zion, Gurnee, Lindenhurst, Antioch, Fox Lake, Round Lake Heights and northeast to Lake Villa,” explained Kirkpatrick. “We lead the parade with the American flag and 10 POW/MIA flags mounted on motorcycles to remind local communities that we still have many folks who have not yet returned from battlefields.
“We are joined by local police and fire departments, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and people in vehicles and many other motorcyclists along the route that covers about 70 miles,” he said. “We parade through these towns, cars will stop and every year without fail we see at least one older vehicle stopped at the roadside with an elderly person standing next to it with hand on heart while we pass by.”
Registration for the ride is from 8 to 10:30 a.m. in the Lovell Center parking lot south of Buckley Road and east of Green Bay Road. Registration fee is $10 per rider and passenger with the donation of a new toy for the Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots program.
The majority of registration money is donated to the VA hospital to pay for newspaper subscriptions for veterans at the hospital. Any additional funds will go toward replacing old televisions on the wards.
The ride begins at 11 a.m. with the after-party starting at 12:30 p.m. at the Lake Villa VFW, 130 W. Grand Ave. Local Boy Scouts will prepare and serve the food.
People who want to attend and support the event can come to the VFW for the cost of lunch. Vendors of military memorabilia, kids’ activities, prize drawings and music will also be featured at the event. Military vehicles will also be on display in the VFW parking lot, weather permitting, said Kirkpatrick.