Raising funds for homeless veterans was the raison d’être for the Indian Hill Bike Run hosted Saturday at Yeager’s Cycle Sales, Inc.
The event, organized by Vietnam veteran Curtis Miller and sponsored by Sedalia VFW Post No. 2591, was a fundraiser for Camp Valor Outdoors, of Kingsville, which is building 10 homes for homeless vets in Holden.
CVO Founder and Executive Director John Schwent said they began construction June 3 and have already built two homes. Saturday’s fundraiser was to help raise funds to build the third home. Each small home costs $14,000 to construct.
“We are operating in 18 states,” Schwent said of CVO’s mission. “We are specifically trying to stop 20 veterans a day from committing suicide and we focus on wounded, ill and injured veterans.”
Schwent said the CVO Veterans Village is a temporary solution because the organization plans to rehabilitate homeless vets through a five-tiered approach.
“We want to help them physically, emotionally, mentally, financially and spiritually,” he said. “So, they can get their life back. We have a whole team, case managers, counselors, the VA, we have veteran-friendly businesses who want to hire some veterans. They have served and we need to help them get back on their feet.”
Schwent, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served from 1986 to 2008, said the project is a “labor of love.” Saturday’s event offered a motorcycle ride, silent auction, band performance with Steve Scorfina and Chrome N Steel and a barbecue.
“We are hoping to reach some veterans in the community that might be able to utilize some of our resources,” Schwent explained. “When we started it (CVO) it was about connecting these wounded veterans with the outdoors. We connect you with veterans of every generation.”
J.D. Myers, a USMC vet who served from 1985 to 1995, is a volunteer at CVO. Myers was at the event with his dog Peanut Butter.
“To me, it’s the comradery,” Myers said of CVO. “With my PTSD, I secluded myself, but when I get around what my kids call ‘my people’ I’m a different person. Everybody has noticed a big difference.”
Myers created the wooden American flag wall hangings that were in the ride’s silent auction event.
“I made those to donate, and raise money,” he said. “When John asks if I can do something, I’m like no problem, I’m there. I’m just a part of it.”
He said he was pleased about the CVO Veterans Village.
“We used to rely on just the VA,” he said. “But we saw where that went, so now we’re all one giant brotherhood and sisterhood, we are taking care of our own. I just made a post today on my Facebook, ‘what a glorious day to be out serving a friend, a stranger or somebody in need.’”
Scorfina, formerly of REO Speedwagon, brought his band to play for the event. He said it means much to him to play for veteran causes.
“Back in the ‘60s when I got drafted, I was completely on the other side of the fence,” he said. “I was a conscientious objector … it had nothing to do with the soldiers … And, now I do all kinds of things for veterans.
“Not to make up for that, but they gave their lives for us,” he continued. “Every time I get a chance to do something for the veterans, I jump at it. What the heck, you know these people gave their lives, they are our real true heroes.”