H.O.G.s for homes and homes for troops: Bikers show up for veterans

Sep 17, 2023

The fundraiser at Battleship Harley-Davidson the morning of Sept. 17 had two goals: to put bikes on the road and put veterans in new homes. 

The local Harley Owners Group, or H.O.G., hosted its 8th annual Ride for our Troops fundraiser Sunday, which asks bikers to purchase a spot in a police-escorted ride around Dartmouth, with all proceeds going toward Homes for our Troops, a Taunton-based charity that places severely injured post-9/11 veterans in specially built homes at no cost to them. 

Scott Foisy, director of the H.O.G.s chapter at Battleship Harley-Davidson on Route 6, said the H.O.G.s selected the charity eight years ago because of its veteran focus and because they direct 90 percent of their funds directly to their charitable programs: “there’s not a lot of red tape,” he said.

“We felt that as Harley riders, because of the bad stigma of Harley Davidson riders, we should show people what we can do,” Foisy said about the event’s inception. 

The ride took cyclists in a loop around Dartmouth, including down the Westport line to the coast and up through Padanaram. 

“Anytime you can ride along the coast, it’s a great ride,” said Josh Pereira, a former H.O.G. member that helped create the fundraiser. “I like a group ride: I don't know half or any of these people and you just start talking about bikes and you start a conversation.”

Foisy said some residents on the route will come out and cheer the riders on as they pass by, but he’d like to see more of that camaraderie. 

Before the pandemic, H.O.G. would raise around $14,000 to $16,000 every year through the fundraiser, and about 500 motorcyclists would show up. The numbers have shrunk since then, but around one hundred cyclists still attended the ride Sunday. 

Steve Mendonza shows up every year, because “it’s just good people” and he wants to support veterans, “whether it’s through this ride or any other way.” He used to participate in the ride, but now attends as a chaplain for the Christian Motorcycle Association. 

Most bikers participating in the ride were enthusiastic about supporting any fundraiser that benefits veterans or the military. 

“Anytime you see something for the troops, it’s a big homecoming for a lot of the Harley riders,” said Josh Pereira, a former H.O.G.s member. “We’re not all gangs and what not, we actually donate quite a bit, especially for the troops.”

“It’s the last ride of the year, I haven't been on any this year and I saw what it was [raising money] for so that made me jump out of my seat and get here,” said Hilario Gomes. 

The Dartmouth Police Department came out to escort the riders, including officer Steve Canario. 

“It’s for safety to enable the riders a safe passage on their route, and it’s for a good charity so we like to contribute,” Canario said.