When motorcyclists from Roundup roared into the parking lot of Independence Hall July 11 to begin a club rally, Bill Holder wasn’t sure what might result.
Holder, director of veterans services at the Volunteers of America-operated residence hall for formerly homeless veterans, often fields offers from the community to help veterans. The Harley-riding club—called the Forty Fives—was a little different from church groups bringing in cookies or secondhand clothes.
The motorcyclists, veterans themselves, said they wanted to begin their rally at the veterans transitional housing facility in the Heights to benefit veterans.
“They wanted to do something to help veterans and promised a donation later,” Holder said. “That was good enough for me.”
The members prefer going by their nicknames—Bootleg, Jolly Rodger, Moody—rather than their real names. They don’t even like to acknowledge how many members are in the club, although a dozen is a good guess.
Motorcycle clubs typically like a bit of the maverick aura.
“But I thought what they planned on doing was fine,” Holder said. “It was veterans doing something to help other veterans. We didn’t have to do anything but provide the parking lot for them to register folks for the rally.”
Imagine then Holder’s surprise when members of the club returned three weeks later to present a check from the rally. It was made out for $6,000.
“I was blown away,” Holder said. “I couldn’t be more surprised and grateful. Honestly, I was thinking they might give us a couple hundred bucks.”
The club does not have many members, club president Lyston “Moody” Lusby acknowledged, but “enough to get the job done.”
The annual rally, called the Brothers in Arms Rally, is only in its second year but more than 100 riders showed up for the run to Roundup.
“We’ve learned something from last year. That was our first rally,” Lusby said. “This year we really pulled it together and next year we’ll fine tune it even more and do even better.”
Lusby, a 20-year Army Special Forces veteran, is one of the founders of the Roundup club, which takes its name from the .45 caliber pistols most veterans are familiar with since it’s like the Colt M1911 military issue revolver.
“When we tried to come up with a name we’d Google it and every name we came up with was already taken. Then one day after target shooting with our 45s I said maybe that’s what we should call the club and no one had that name, so that’s what we wound up with,” he said.
The second annual Brothers in Arms rally included a motorcycle run to Roundup where there was overnight camping, a bike rodeo, bingo and poker runs, and music by the Kosmic Jokers. Proceeds came from the registration, sponsorships and a raffle that this year featured two prime camping sites at the famous Buffalo Chip Campground for the 75th annual Sturgis rally.
Last year proceeds from the rally went to a disabled veteran.
“This year we decided to help the veterans who were recently homeless to help them reclaim their lives,” said Lusby. “We’re glad our donation has an impact on so many veterans. That’s what we wanted to do.”
Independence Hall is a 20-bed men’s transitional living facility where assistance is provided to veterans with housing, employment, medical assistance and other supportive services so they can reintegrate into the community, Holder said. More than 300 veterans have been served since the facility opened in October 2009.
It also is a facility that now has an unexpected $6,000 to help homeless veterans.