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Home News Legacy Run hits close to home at opening ceremony

Legacy Run hits close to home at opening ceremony

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Commander Jeremy Ehart was proud that his own American Legion Lysle Rishel Post 68 in Hutchinson, Kan., is serving as the starting point for the 2018 American Legion Legacy Run.

But it’s also personal for Ehart, a Marine Corps veteran who suffered burns over 64 percent of his body during a 2004 training accident in California that left him facing 36 surgeries and a six-month hospitalization.

Medically retired, Ehart has a son approaching high school graduation. That the Legacy Run raises scholarship money for the children of fallen servicemembers and 50-percent or higher disabled veterans is not lost on Ehart, also an American Legion Rider.

“It’s an honor … for what the ride is, what the ride represents, what these people do, what they go through for the ride,” Ehart said Aug. 16 as his post hosted more than 250 American Legion Riders for a Mexican dinner and opening ceremony. “I think it means a little bit more probably to me personally. My son, he’s a senior this year, so he’ll actually be applying for this (scholarship). So I have a little bit more vested interest.”

Ehart admitted preparing for the influx of American Legion Riders, Legacy Run support staff, state and national American Legion leadership and community members at the post wasn’t an easy task.

“Trying to prepare for 400 people is nuts,” Ehart said. “It’s been months, plural. And things change constantly. But this post has gotten nothing but compliments. It’s worth it.”

In a touching ceremony, Legion Riders also heard from Gold Star mother Amy Allbright, who came to thank The American Legion for its support for military families. Allbright’s daughter, Sgt. Christina Marie Schoenecker of Arlington, Kan., died in February of this year in Baghdad from a non-combat related incident while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

Allbright praised the Legion Riders in general and Post 68 specifically for its support of her and her family following Schoenecker’s death.

"I want to take the time to thank everyone for the love and the support you’ve given us in these past months,” Allbright said. “It’s been the hardest tragedy of my life to lose my precious angel. Thank you … for everything that you’ve done, from being with (Schoenecker) 24 hours a day while she was at the funeral home, to being with us as a family. And her service – honoring her in such a beautiful way.

“It is my honor to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything that you’ve done … and for the money that you’ve raised. It will make a difference in people’s lives.”

Legacy Run Chief Road Captain Bob Sussan said it’s families like that of Schoenecker that motivate The American Legion Riders to do what they do.

“They come for all around the country,” Sussan said. “We do this for the children. This is all volunteer work. (The Legion Riders) do it. They live it. They do it all year. This is the culmination of it.”

Department of Kansas Commander Dan Wiley said his department had its best Legacy Run fundraising effort ever and praised the Riders for being “the face of our organization so often. Channel 4 in Kansas City doesn’t carry the department convention. But if we have an Honor Flight coming home and you’re there, if we have a flag line (at a funeral), that’s what’s on TV.

“We don’t do it for the applause, but it’s important that everyone know what you are.”

Sons of The American Legion National Commander Danny Smith said the Legion Riders truly represent the American Legion Family. “American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, Sons of The American Legion – all involved in The American Legion Riders,” he said.

Hutchinson Mayor Steve Dechant also was in attendance and praised Post 68 for its presence in the community, which includes hosting the National Junior College Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament every year since 1949.

“I’m not surprised that Hutchinson was chosen (as the starting site),” Dechant said. “That’s because of the strength and the activity level of this Legion post.”

The ride leaves Hutchinson at 7:30 a.m. Sunday and will travel to Independence, Mo., with various local rides planned for in and around the Independence and Kansas City areas.

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Did you know?

Military Funeral Honors ceremonies must be scheduled in advance.

The law requires that every eligible veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, which includes the folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of “taps,” upon the family’s request. This Department of Defense program calls for the funeral director to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veteran’s family.