BRATTLEBORO -- Terry Emond and Colin Young both ride Harleys and they would participate in the Brattleboro Retreat annual Ride for Heroes even if they didn't work at the Retreat.
And they both say they are happy to go the extra distance to raise money for the Retreat's Uniformed Service Professionals program, which serves law enforcement, firefighters, veterans, corrections officers and EMTs who have experienced trauma, depression or addiction, often as a result of their work.
But both Emond and Young, who helped start the Ride for Heroes five years ago, said there was something very special about the event and the Retreat program itself.
"It's a really cool program and I hope that when people need it that it's there for my fellow firefighters or EMS," said Young, who is an on-call firefighter with the Brattleboro Fire Department. "Or I might need it, too. You never know. It's really dear to my heart."
The Brattleboro Retreat Ride for Heroes is an all-day event scheduled this year for Saturday, Aug. 16.
The event brings more than 200 motorcyclists to the Retreat campus, where they set out on a 60 to 70 mile ride through southeastern Vermont and then return for an afternoon barbecue.
Money raised through the event goes toward the Uniformed Service Professionals Program.
For the past four years money raised has come through registration fees and activities but this year riders have been encouraged to seek sponsors and raise additional money through donations.
Emond, a patient accounts representative at the Retreat, and Young, who is a member of the facilities department, have both taken the change to heart, and between them they have raised almost $4,500 so far.
Young spent 12 years with the Dummerston Fire Department and served with Rescue Inc. and with the Putney Fire Department.
"I am proud to do this," Young said. "It's hard for them to ask for help. They're trying to deal with it themselves and be all tough. I'm glad there's a program out there."
Emond rides a 1684 cc Harley Davidson Street Bob, and Young has a Harley Softail Deuce with a 1450 cc engine.
Six years ago Emond was talking with the former director of the Uniformed Service Professionals Program, who also rode a motorcycle. They thought the Retreat should start a benefit ride, though they did not originally plan to put the money toward the Uniformed Service Professionals Program, which was just being developed at the Retreat.
The ride, and then success of the program, came together and Emond said it made sense to put the money that was raised toward helping firefighters, law enforcement and other uniformed professionals who were seeking help at the Retreat.
Emond did not know what to expect, but 130 riders showed up that first year and it has grown every year since.
"Initially we thought we could raise a couple of hundred dollars and maybe donate it to one of the kids' programs, but them we said ‘Why don't we do this for the Uniformed Service program?'" Emond said. "I love them all. I have so much respect for them because they'll step into my life at the worst time possible, not even knowing me, and help. So I can help them in this little way."
For more information on the ride go to www.brattlebororetreat.org/rideforheroes.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. Follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer.