Motorcycle ride to benefit NL memorial
NEW LONDON -- As he pursued his Eagle Scout award in 2003, Ryane Clark, a 2007 graduate of New London-Spicer High School, was working with the state Department of Natural Resources to create a parking lot near County Road 31 and the state trail on the edge of New London.
With a lack of funding and time, the DNR wasn't moving fast enough, so Clark had to find another project.
Now, to commemorate and honor their son, who was killed in Afghanistan after his convoy was ambushed Oct. 4, Rick and Tracy Clark have picked up the project and are hoping to finish the parking lot and a memorial for Pfc. Clark by the fall of 2012.
"We've been pushing the DNR to get it done since he passed away," Tracy Clark said. "We finally told them we would raise the funding, which will determine when the memorial is completed."
At an estimated cost of $50,000, Clark said she hopes to find the funds in time to build the memorial by next fall. The plan is to construct the parking lot first, followed by a memorial with landscaping and an American flag.
"If we don't raise enough by then, we will just keep plucking away to raise some more funds," she said.
To help the Clarks in their fundraising efforts, the Brotherhood Motorcycle Club of Belgrade is set to host their annual Veterans Benefit Motorcycle Ride on Saturday .
With all proceeds and freewill donations from the ride, John Larson, president of the motorcycle club, said he hopes to contribute at least $1,000 to the memorial.
"We talked to the Clarks and they were more than happy to accept the donation," Larson said. "Ryane's the hometown hero and we should hopefully get a nice turnout, which would be great."
Registration for the ride is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at the Brotherhood Motorcycle clubhouse in Belgrade, 328 Washburn Ave., with the ride beginning at noon.
Bikers will spend the afternoon riding about 125 miles, Larson said. From Belgrade, the first stop is the Litchfield Veterans of Foreign Wars followed by the Cosmos American Legion, then the Willmar American Legion and ending at the New London American Legion.
The club sponsors the ride every June to raise funding for veteran-related organizations. Larson said, in years past, the club has contributed to the Minnesota Veterans Home in Silver Lake and to the Honor Guard in Willmar to help upkeep members' uniforms they wear when attending military funerals.
"We have been rained out before," Larson said. "But nevertheless we still ride. We just hope we get a great turnout to help honor a local hero."