By John Lynds
Over 6,000 motorcycles will roar through area Saturday as part of the 6th Annual ‘Wounded Vet Ride’ on Saturday May 14.
The annual event raises money to for four local veterans wounded in combat overseas.
The daylong event, founded by area resident and U.S. Marine Andrew Biggio and former State Rep. Carlo Basile, will follow a 40-mile route along the North Shore and end at Suffolk Downs Racetrack with a concert and barbecue.
This year the Wounded Vet Ride will help raise money for Army SSG James Clark, Sgt. Peter Damon, Army Specialist Sean Pesce, Marine Sgt. Eric Rodriguez and Marine Sgt. Kirstie Ennis.
Marine Sgt. Ennis will be the first woman honored at the Massachusetts event since it was started six years ago by Biggio.
Army SSG James Clark of Hinsdale lost his leg and part of a foot in an 2009 Afghanistan deployment by an IED. He is the first New Hampshire resident honored by the annual Vet Ride. He currently works at a small diner in western Massachusetts and is married with two children.
Sgt. Peter Damon lost both his arms in Iraq in 2003. While fixing a Blackhawk helicopter tire, it malfunctioned and exploded. The explosion killed a fellow mechanic and wounded Damon gravely. Damon know owns and operates his own art store now and paints.
Army Specialist Sean Pesce was shot thirteen times in a fire fight in Afghanistan. One of the rounds pierced his spine causing him to be paralyzed from the waist down. Money raised for Pesce will be put towards his foundation to better his quality of life.
Marine Sgt, Eric Rodriguez was wounded in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device. Rodriguez lost a leg and took severe damage to another. He was serving with 1st Battalion 8th Marines in Helmand Province . He plays Paralympic basket ball for the U.S. Marines.
On June 23, 2012 a CH-53E Super Stallion Marine Sgt. Kirstie Ennis was aboard went down during a combat resupply run to Forward Operating Base Now Zad, Afghanistan. All eight people aboard survived, but the crash left Ennis with a shattered jaw, broken leg bones, burns, cervical and lumbar spine damage, traumatic brain injury and a hearing impairment. After a few years of trying to salvage her leg it unfortunately had to be amputated. After 38 reconstructive surgeries and years of speech and cognitive therapy, the 24-year-old is scheduled to appear on US Paralympic team.
The annual Vet Ride is sponsored in part by the East Boston Italian American Veterans (ITAM) Post 6 and was founded by Biggio, who spent six years in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Biggio started the Vet Run six years ago after meeting a wounded veteran a few years ago at another fundraising event held annually at Fenway Park.
“Every year Boston’s Wounded Vet Ride will be dedicated to a different veterans,” said Biggio. “The motto of the Vet Run is “They Fought, We Ride.”