The annual Limousine Association of New Jersey fundraiser has long served as a role model for industry togetherness.
The Limo Patriot Ride, now in its third year, benefits the charity group Semper Fi Fund. The non-profit charity was the vision of Karen Guenther, a registered nurse who was working with wounded Marines and Sailors as they returned home from Iraq for post-war care in 2003.
Guenther, along with other military spouses, realized the many challenges these veterans faced and began organizing “Welcome Home” parties and preparing bags of goodies to lift the spirits of these wounded heroes. They began fundraising for the parties, the goody bags, and even travel funds to get relatives into the Oceanside area to spend time with the vets.
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Eventually, the efforts grew into a full-fledged 501-C3 non-profit organization. What began as a personal project at Guenther’s kitchen table was expanded by Wendy Lethin, Dawn Olson, and Sarah Dalke who assisted in forming the non-profit corporation and making it a national organization. The core mission of the group is to provide immediate financial relief and deliver quality of life.
When operators Michael Callahan, Ron Stein, David Eckstein, Barry Gross, and Lynda Saitta learned of the foundation, they set their mind to help serve the cause as well. Under the guidance of Saitta, the 2017 Limo Patriot Ride was able to present a check to Semper Fi for $30,000 on behalf of the limousine industry.
The Limo Patriot Ride receives overwhelming support from some of the most prominent transportation companies in the industry including EmpireCLS, Grace Limousine, Flyte Tyme, Valera Global, Exclusive Sedan, Reston Limousine, and Signature Transportation to name a few. Many of the industry’s state associations also contribute to the cause including NELA, GALA, and the Virginia Motorcoach Association.
The event is also largely supported by many limousine industry suppliers and vendors including Titus Leasing, Chosen Payments, Grech Motors, Livery Coach, Transcap Insurance, Create-A-Card, and Book.limo.
During a pre-ride party held poolside the night before the ride, Ryan Hilberth of Rental Limo/Book.limo purchased $200 worth of raffle tickets and challenged other participants to match him. Within seconds, more than $1,200 in raffle tickets were sold as operators dug into their pockets quickly to match Hilberth.
The ride kicked off after a food truck breakfast. The fare included the breakfast tacos, biscuits and gravy, and breakfast sandwiches with plenty of coffee.
This year, the Las Vegas-based Patriot Guard Riders lead the way. With riders to the front and rear, they were split into two groups for safety purposes with the Patriot Guards giving safety instructions to the group before departing to Lake Mead and Hoover Dam.
A lunch was served at the end of the ride at the Railroad Pass Casino, and riders were free to return back to Eagle Rider Harley Rentals or spend the rest of the day out on their Harley. Many of the riders such as David Eckstein arrived in Vegas on their own motorcycles.
In addition to serving as a fundraiser, the event also served as another networking function of the International LCT Show, although it was not an official part of the show. Abdou and Hillary Louarti from Diamond Transportation in Tucson were participating for the first time and were excited about meeting new people while helping out for a good cause.
“This is going to be so much fun," said Hillary Louarti as she zipped up her leather jacket and slipped her helmet on for the ride. Ron Stein gave huge credit to Saitta for her organizational efforts. “She has done an outstanding job of coordinating the ride.”
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