The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

ORV 'Run for the Colors' vets ride draws large crowd

Wakefield - More than 50 off-road vehicles hit the trails this weekend for the first-ever "Run for the Colors" veterans ORV ride, organized by the U.P. ORV Trail Development Association and the Western U.P. Trail Association.

The riders departed from the Wakefield American Legion at 11 a.m. Saturday and took the trail east through the Ottawa National Forest, then returned to the Legion where veterans were provided a free dinner.

"It's really to give our vets a chance to see the fall colors, and for those who aren't vets to salute them and to show our appreciation to them. That's what it's all about," said event organizer Skip Schulz, president of the UP ORV Trail Development Association.

Schulz said a number of clubs and individuals brought ORVs so that others, including disabled persons, could ride as well.

"There's so many people that are providing machines," he said, including one club from the Minnesota-Iowa border. "They drove up here to bring machines for people to ride in ... They came from all over on this ride."

Schulz said he was planning for 50 participants and was sure the goal had been met.

"I've done other rides, but I really wanted to do one for the vets," Schulz said, which was when he contacted Wisconsin-based Veteran's Outdoor World.

"Basically, what we do is, we take vets and their family members hunting and fishing for free," said David Kohn, vice president of Veteran's Outdoor World, which provides those services to vets regardless of age, disability or time in service.

The organization is volunteer-based, Kohn said, but they did what they could to help spread the word and market the Run for the Color ride.

Schulz also contacted two state legislators, Sen. Tom Casperson and Rep. Scott Dianda, who joined the riders and said a few words following the run.

Ryan Jarvi/Daily Globe

OFF-ROAD VEHICLES line Lewis Street near the Wakefield American Legion Saturday morning before hitting the trails in the first "Run for the Colors" veterans ORV ride, which was organized by the UP Trail Development Association and the Western UP Trail Association, and received much local support. More than 50 people participated in the event.

"It's nice to be able to be here today with all our vets who've served, past and present, and the fact that they're here to help also promote Michigan, our tourism and these trail systems that we want to have," Dianda said. "To get these trails connected, it's one of the biggest impacts we have for the U.P. right now; to have tourism come in on these side-by-sides, it's a new market. We've got the demographics that are changing with retirees. They're able to come in, spend a couple days, throw their suitcases in there. This is an economic boom for us."

Casperson rode with Schulz before on the trails, about two years ago. That trail ride resulted in legislation with the Michigan Department of Transportation that focused on opening up some of the trail's choke points, Casperson said.

He's also been on a veterans ride before.

"Last winter I did a veterans ride with snowmobiles. We had over 317 sleds in that ride, over in Seney, and (it was) a great way to recognize and honor the veterans that have served, and this is just another extension of that," he said of Saturday's ride. "I just see these things growing and getting bigger and I hope they don't end because we need to keep recognizing our veterans."

The event also received support from the Lake States Resources Alliance, Wakefield American Legion, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan DOT and the Ottawa National Forest.


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