Local bikers ride for charity

Now that the warmer weather has arrived, motorcycle enthusiasts are itching to get out and ride.

Steve Miller, a local Vietnam War veteran, has found a way to do that, and help a good cause at the same time.

Miller knows first-hand what types of difficulties face veterans upon their return home, especially those that have been wounded. When he was just 19-years old, Miller lost his eyesight and his left hand in an explosion.

He has since dedicated his life to giving central Ohio veterans the help they need.

Miller served as Columbus’ Coordinator of Veterans Affairs for 17 years. During that time, he contributed to the 1990s inception of “Standdown,” a day-long event that serves area veterans.

Upon his retirement, however, Miller hasn’t slowed in his quest to contribute. Soon after leaving his position with the city, he started his own charitable organization to help local vets, the Columbus Veterans Beneficial Board (CVBB).

“It was just something I did when I left the city to keep me busy,” said Miller, who hesitates to take credit for his accomplishments.

Miller explained that his organization differs from other veterans organizations because he lacks restraints on how and who he can help.

“You have your VFWs (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and American Legions,” said Miller, “They have limits as to what they can do with their money. If it’s veterans related, I can help.”

CVBB works hand in hand with other local organizations to help ensure that everyone who needs help, gets it. Not only does the group give to homeless and needy veterans, but they also plan to contribute to the construction of an Ohio Fallen Heroes Veteran’s Memorial in the near future.

All this giving is done through fundraisers and donations throughout the year, the biggest of those being the Annual Armed Forces Day Ride. This year’s ride, the fourth of its kind, will be held May 17.

The ride, which is open to anyone, will begin with a breakfast to be held at Moose Lodge 11, located at 1500 Demorest Road. After that, bikes will proceed to the VA hospital in Chillicothe, where they make a yearly donation of money and goods to those in need. Once the donations have been made, bikers will then return to the Moose Lodge for an evening of food, prizes and entertainment.

“It’s a good time,” said Miller.

The groups first ride, which took place in 2005, gathered about 75 riders, according to Miller. Since then, it’s grown every year.

“I’m hoping to have at least 250 people this year,” said Miller of the rain-or-shine event.

The 2007 ride raised an estimated $10,000 for the CVBB, a number that Miller also hopes to top this year.

“I just want to be able to give to all the places that need help,” said Miller.

For more information about the Annual Armed Forces Day Ride or to make a donation to the Columbus Veterans Beneficial Board, call Steve Miller at 614-371-0940.

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