On Saturday, September 24, LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry Dogs Brutus (LCC Squad) and Nigel (LCC Staff) were on hand to welcome the Gold Star 500 riders as they completed their ride at Great Lakes Naval Station in North Chicago, Illinois. This fifth annual event works to preserve the legacy and honor of those service men and service women from Illinois who have made the ultimate sacrifice in support of service to this great nation since 2001.
This year’s Gold Star 500 bicycle ride from September 20-24 had new faces from overseas as 12 riders and 12 volunteers from Poland joined the ride. These new participants included members of the Polish military and members of Polish families who have lost loved ones in Iraq or Afghanistan. This year’s ride started in Springfield with stops in Quincy, Galesburg, Rock Falls, and Woodstock before finishing at the Great Lakes Naval Station.
Many volunteers with Gold Star Mission are active or retired members of the Illinois National Guard, which has shared a State Partnership Program with Poland since 1993. Some of those volunteers co-deployed with the Polish to either Iraq or Afghanistan. The Polish participants learned about Gold Star Mission by meeting these troops and are considering starting a similar organization in Poland.
The Kare 9s brought their special love and compassion to the riders, families, and friends.