Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Motorcycle Run to Aid Wounded Warriors

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Motorcycle Run to Aid Wounded Warriors

Article excerpt

When Jerry Vanasdale led 500 motorcycles through the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Cecil, he knew there had to be a run again the next year, but for a different cause.

Riding five miles an hour through the 300-acre cemetery modeled after Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C., it was possible to read the headstones of fallen soldiers from the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and more.

"There's so many people in the Pittsburgh area that don't know that the Cemetery of the Alleghenies is there," said Mr. Vanasdale of Mars, who served six years in the Marines. "These are all the people we do it for. That made me realize I need to be able to help every branch of the service, not just Marines."

This year's motorcycle run on Sunday will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, not just the family of a fallen Marine as was the target of each of Mr. Vanasdale's nonprofit motorcycle runs for the past seven years.

Because he is in the process of transitioning nonprofits from the Fallen Marine Memorial Run to the Marine Run, this year's ride will be organized by his longtime friend Jerry Lang. Once initiated, Mr. Vanasdale's new nonprofit will benefit all areas of the service.

Ever since he saw a powerful photo on the cover of a newspaper seven years ago of a little boy pointing to a flag-drapped casket saying "Daddy," Mr. Vanasdale wanted to give back to families affected by war. His company, Pierce Contracting, paid for administrative work and marketing for the 80- to 100-mile runs each year.

For the first run in 2006, Mr. Vanasdale said there were about 250 bikes, and this past year it grew to 500, making it one of the biggest runs in Pittsburgh, next to the Blue Knights Ride for Pittsburgh police and fire departments. The Fallen Marine Memorial Run last year raised about $30,000.

"People in Pittsburgh are very patriotic," Mr. …

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