Over 60 Gold Star Family members and 150 supporters gathered at Fairmont Park in Riverside, CA on 5 October for the 5th Annual Gold Star Families BBQ.
The event started off with a flag line formed by PGR and the posting of colors by Gold Star Dads Mike Allen, Rick Creed & Rick Stephens followed by the placing of the dog tags on the battlefield cross by Gold Star Dad John Ruiz. We were then treated to our National Anthem sung by PFC Kendra N. Coil, Chaplain Assistant with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment at Ft Irwin.
As is customary at this event numerous ride groups arrive in mass. As usual, first to arrive were the Patriot Guard Riders lead by Gunny Donor followed shortly by the Inland Empire chapter of “Leathernecks” and the parade of bikes ended with the arrival of the CVMA chapter 33-6 and American Legion Riders from Post # 328 Norco.
For many of the families this is an annual event that gives them a chance to catch up with old friends and meet new ones, but for a few new Gold Stars it was their first taste of the awesome healing power of this event. The Families all bring memorabilia for display on the Tribute tables where our awesome PGR, ALR, CMA & Leatherneck riders and other supporters gathered throughout the day to hear stories of our Heroes as told by those who knew them best.
After lunch the Fun began as 64 attendees gathered midfield for the Roshambo (Rock, Paper, Scissors) Championship. The field was quickly whittled down to 16 then 8, then 4, and finaly just two. The best of 9 contest between Gilbert Garcia (aka “AAA”) & Martha Barajas was a close contest going down to the 8th throw before MARTHA was crowned our 2013 Roshambo Champion.
A Huge Thank You to “AAA” (aka Gilbert Garcia) who also won and promptly DONATED BACK his $204 winnings from our 50/50 Drawing. If you ever wondered who will continue to look after our young combat vets after they get out of the service just look at the “old guard” of the Leathernecks MC. Gilbert is positive proof that the Leathernecks have outstanding mentors.
This year we presented two plaques; the Volunteer(s) of the Year went to Greg & Shirley Griffith for their continued support of Gold Star Dads of America. The second award was a Special Solid Gold Volunteer Award, presented to Tandra Johnson for her support of Veterans organizations & dedicated support of the Gold Star community over the last few years. Regular attendees of our events are familiar with the outstanding support and great food provided by Tandra and Shirley Griffith and the rest of the “A Team”.
Sales were brisk at the merchandise table , aptly manned by the Allen Family. This year’s “Let Freedom Ring” t-shirts accounted for $500 in sales alone. Thank you to everyone who purchased a shirt or coin. Donations for the BBQ lunch were $345 and covered all of our food costs.
First, I want to give Special Thanks to our Gold Star Prayer Warriors who kept my wife & I, this event, our volunteer staff and the Gold Star Dads of America organization in their daily prayers. Thanks also to Greg Griffith, Ed Currier & Tom Begeneffe for manning the grills and Tandra & the “A-Team” for taking care of the salads & sweets. Thank you to all the volunteers who served and helped with set up today, you are all awesome.
Special guests included; JR from the Traveling Wall of Remembrance, and Brian Dennis from SOS Financial Services. This year the pictures we taken by Kaitlin Clarke and as usual sound was provided by Gold Star Dad Tony Cox.