As a steady rain fell, Mokena's Pipefitters Local Union 597 opened its hall Sunday, Aug. 26, to host an early breakfast for about 500 riders participating in the Fourth Annual Wounded Warriors Motorcycle Run. The ride started in Mokena and ended about 30 miles south at Apprenticeship and Skills Improvement Local 150 on Arsenal Road in Wilmington
The Illinois Veterans Foundation, the sponsor of the event, raised $11,000 and will distribute it Monday, Aug. 27, to 11 state veterans who had been wounded in action, said Mike Cozzi, executive director of the IVF.
Jim Cornelison from the Chicago Blackhawks sang the National Anthem before the motorcycle run began. The Chicago Police bagpipers also played patriotic songs during the ceremony.
The solemn ride
Tucked in between the roar of black leather-clad motorcycle riders and Illinois State Police escorts were several vehicles with wounded warriors. The parade of patriots was joined briefly by Mokena Police along Wolf Road.
Among the wounded warriors was veteran Brian Wilhelm, of New Lenox, who lost a leg on his tour of duty in Iraq. A family member represented Sgt. Brian Poplin, of Mokena. Poplin, who suffered a jaw injury while serving in Afghanistan, has recovered. However, he has been recently deployed again, Cozzi said.
Flag-waving members of the VFW, American Legion and ordinary citizens lined Wolf Road to show their support for veterans, especially for those who have been wounded. The parade seemed particularly poignant since recent news revealed that the number of American troops to die in Afghanistan hit the 2,000 mark.
The riders received a warm reception as they rode into Wilmington, too, Cozzi said. At a celebration, Cozzi presented each of wounded veterans with a $1,000 check. He said the IVF has also committed to completing repairs or improvements at the homes of each of the veterans honored today.
Check out our photo gallery for images from the event and share your own pictures.
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