CRESTVIEW — Amvet Post 35 Riders’ civic outreach program aims to wow spectators while bringing the community closer together.


CRESTVIEW — Amvet Post 35 Riders’ civic outreach program aims to wow spectators while bringing the community closer together.



One effort began Oct. 21 with a visit to Shoal Creek Rehabilitation Center, where post riders and passengers displayed their gleaming machines and demonstrated their riding skills for 35 residents and staff. They rode a small circuit around the facility for patients, mostly senior citizens and wheelchair users.



“The idea to do this came from a suggestion from Pam White, one of our members, whose aunt (Lois Eileen Ellis) is here in this facility,” Amvet Rider President Wade Hutto said. “When we started talking about it, it sounded like something we ought to do because we are all about  doing things for the community — and, in this case, the elderly and infirmed.”



The post’s community service also catches the national Amvet’s attention.



“You might say it is like a merit badge is to the scouting program,” rider Ken “Sparky” Sparks said. “We have to earn awards, and one way to earn them is community service.”



However, Sparks and Hutto carefully explain, they don’t make these rides for awards or publicity. Rather, they see them as personal contributions to military veterans, many of whom reside in facilities like Shoal River. Nearly 45 percent of the patient list includes prior military members or widows, staffers said.



The group plans to have monthly rides spread out among other North Okaloosa County in-care facilities.



Amanda Owens, Shoal Creek activities director, said she liked the idea because it would ensure patients get outdoors.



“I think this has been a wonderful experience for our patients … they really enjoyed meeting the motorcyclists and having chats with them. The only other thing I would like to see is for other organizations to join in with the riders and come visit with our patients one-on-one  because … they love it,” Owens said.