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7th Annual Wounded America Run to Benefit Injured Michigan Marine

Motor City Harley-Davidson and Motor City HOG Chapter 2368 work together to put on the yearly event.

On Saturday, the Wounded America Run will raise money to help a wounded Michigan veteran, through a motorcycle ride that starts in Farmington.

But you don't have to have a bike to get in on the fun.

The escorted ride to Michigan International Speedway (MIS) is organized annually and the Motor City HOG Chapter 2368, working closely with the Veterans of Modern Warfare to find a veteran ambassador who will benefit from the fundraiser.

"We work with the more severely wounded soldiers," Steve Pearce, HOG chairman of the event, said. "A soldier coming back with a gunshot comes in and out of Walter Reed (Army Medical Center) and is back on his feet and can continue life. But a lot of these soldiers that (are) amputees from IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and lose both legs, that is almost the least of their injuries. Because that whole concussive force damages organs and other bones and they are constantly back and forth to the hospital. That is an expense that can become a rather big drain. A lot of these soldiers are back and forth for years and years."

This year, the beneficiary is U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Joshua Hoffman of Middleville. On Jan. 6, 2007, Hoffman was patroling the streets of Fallujah, Iraq when a gunshot to the neck left him paralyzed from the neck down.

Hoffman's recovery has been long and hard, filled with battling pneumonia, infections and kidney failure. For the first six months, he was dependent on a ventilator to breathe and still relies on a tracheotomy and oxygen. He fights everyday to relearn his speech and regain abilities to move.

Pearce said Hoffman has several four-wheelers in his garage that he used to ride, so they are going to purchase an off-road wheelchair for him to enjoy.

"We've been looking for something we can do to partner with him to get him out of his house a little more," Pearce said. "There's a lot of off-pavement type opportunities that he'd like to participate in."

According to Jennifer Loberman, Motor City Harley Davidson marketing director, ROUSH Racing is customizing the chair for Hoffman's use.

The Wounded America Run typically raises between $10,000 to $12,000 each year, according to Pearce. This year, they may do even better, he said.

Riders will take off for MIS at 2 p.m. However, the day will include live entertainment provided by the Jim Kish Trio, a local rock 'n roll cover band, BBQ, a silent auction and games and prizes. Those activities are open to the public and will take place at Motor City Harley Davidson, rather than at MIS as in previous years.

"We were hoping to open up the event to people who weren't going to participate on the ride," Loberman said. "Michigan International Speedway is a little ways away and not everybody has a motorcycle, but a lot of people want to come out and support our wounded veterans. This way we're trying to make it more accessible."

The event begins at the dealership at 10:30 a.m. Costs are $10 to attend the party and $15 to participate in the escorted ride to Michigan International Speedway.

"For this worthwhile cause, we really encourage people, motorcyclists and non-motorcyclists to come out and support this local hometown hero," Loberman said. "That's one of the reasons I think we're having the event here at the dealership as opposed to out at Michigan International Speedway. We just really want to show our veterans how much we care, not just on Veterans Day, but everyday."

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