(RED bike) George Hernandez, a U.S. Marine combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient, drives a motorcycle during the July 4 parade in Los Angeles. Hernandez will be coming through Moab on the veterans charity ride to the Sturgis Bike Rally in South Dakota. [Courtesy photo]

A caravan of motorcycle riders – all military veterans – will come through Moab where they will spend two nights on their way to the annual Sturgis Bike Rally in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The purpose of the ride, said organizer Dave Frey, is to provide a healing experience for the riders, and to also spread awareness across the country that there is help and assistance for wounded warriors out there.

“I’m fortunate I was born in a motorcycle shop – my parents owned one. I spent 48 years riding. It’s in my blood,” Frey said.

Frey and Johnny Reno – both U.S. Army Airborne veterans and former paratroopers – met last year while each were riding solo their motorcycles to the legendary Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Frey said. They talked about veterans’ issues and how tough it can be to heal after serving in combat. They decided to use their love of motorcycle riding and create an event – veteranscharityride.org – to help their fellow veterans.

“We’ve put together this band of brothers and we’re using motorcycle riding as therapy and release,” Frey said. “We interviewed severely wounded vets across the country,” to join the ride. This ride is to show gratitude, and give back and help.

The motorcyclists will leave Los Angeles on July 27, where a surprise celebrity guest will lead the riders out of the city. From there, the group will continue on to Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks before landing in Moab for two days, where riders will take time to visit Arches National Park and attend special events during their stay. A special ride through Canyonlands is also planned.

Frey, a producer with Full Vision Productions, will do some filming while in Moab, for a documentary he is making about the event.

Indian Motorcycles was America’s first motorcycle company, started in 1901, said Frey, who also goes by the name Indian Dave. For this veterans charity ride to Sturgis the company has loaned eight motorcycles – two of them champion side cars for disabled veterans to use. Three of the veterans attending are amputees. Frey will supply a third side-car motorcycle.

Organizers plan to contact veterans along their route – especially wounded veterans – to connect them to resources, Frey said. They hope those in need of assistance will contact the group through their web site: www.veteranscharityride.org. It’s also the place to go to follow the veterans’ journey to Sturgis.

“I will share our daily adventures with other vets and the public,” by posting clips to social media, Frey said. “We hope that people interact with us on twitter, Instagram and Facebook – and tell us the best place to stop and eat, or cool places to see. We’re trying to engage with vets and motorcycle enthusiasts in the areas we go through.”

People can follow the ride at the above web site, or at www.indianmotorcycle.com. The event is being sponsored by Indian Motorcycles.

“We want people to contact us – to see that there is hope out there, that there are groups, charities, that will help pick up the slack by sharing resources and stories,” Frey said.

Ron Irvin, of Moab, is commander of American Legion Post #54, and is looking forward to meeting the motorcyclists and fellow veterans when they come through town. He and his wife, Mary Walker-Irvin have 45 years of military service between them, he said, and he can relate to riding motorcycles for stress-relief.

“It’s cathartic – that’s the best way to put it,” Irvin said. “It’s just you and the road, and the scenery. There’s nobody to hassle you or give you grief.”

The dozen-or-so motorcyclists will spend two nights at Red Cliffs Lodge. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Cleveland-Day Post 10900 in Moab are planning a barbecue lunch for the group, said Mark Luddington, a Moab resident and a veteran of the Afghanistan war.

Veterans ride through Moab on way to Sturgis Bike Rally

“We want people to contact us – to see that there is hope out there, that there are groups, charities, that will help pick up the slack by sharing resources and stories.”