Group of fit people trail running on a mountain path

The New Founders of Freedom are hosting the 10th annual motorcycle Veterans Ride on Saturday, April 10. 

The five-stop Yahtzee Run, with the $200 prize, begins with registration from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the Avondale Moose Lodge, 1572 S. Cotton Lane, Goodyear, and ends with the last bike in at 2 p.m. at the VFW Post 1433, 7618 N. 63rd Avenue, Glendale. 

Tickets are $20 for riders or $25 for riders with passengers. Proceeds from the ride go to Bobby Jones and Tammie Smith with the VFW Homeless Veterans Program. For information, call Smith at 480-408-0586.

“The funds that we receive from this go directly to help veterans in the West Valley,” said Jones, who lives in Avondale. “We have helped well over 50 veterans stay in their homes or apartments. Sometimes we just take them out and buy groceries for them.”

Jones, who served in the Navy from 1981 to 2014, is a teacher at Country Gardens Charter School in Laveen. He was inducted into the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame in 2015 for his work with homeless veterans.

“My passion is helping veterans,” Jones said. “I had a cousin who came back from Vietnam, and he was never able to fully able to readjust. He didn’t want to stay with his mother. He preferred to be on the street and be homeless.

“I was on active duty when I went to visit him in his little area. I asked how many veterans were out there. He said half of the camp was veterans. I had to do something about it.”

A Peoria resident, Smith has a similar story. An Army veteran, Smith found herself homeless after she returned home from combat to find her husband with another woman. 

“I didn’t have another home,” Smith said. “I didn’t have anybody to help me. When I got off the bus and plane, there were no family members there to meet me. All of my family was in Texas. I was in Washington. I watched families reunite, and I just walked off. I literally had no place to stay. 

“It just makes you stronger,” she said with a sigh. “Warriors don’t break — they bend.”

She discovered the VFW when a family member took her to an auxiliary dinner. 

“I met the VFW riders, and I fell in love with them,” she said. “These are my people. You’re comfortable around your own kind. That’s what made me steer toward them. The things I’ve seen the VFW do for people is just amazing. 

“Now, I have really good friends in the New Founders of Freedom.”

Besides raising money for homeless veterans, the Yahtzee Run will also bring awareness to the VFW. 

“We’re stopping at two American Legions as well,” she said. “If we get a drink, soda or beer, it helps that post. That helps the veterans as well. When we get to the VFW 1433, we’ll have an auction for small items and a raffle. There’s going to be food, pulled pork sandwiches and chips for $5. All the money from the food goes to the homeless veterans, too.”

The public is invited to the event. 

“When we have these fundraisers, everyone’s welcome,” she said. “You’re treated like family when you’re helping our family.”