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Texas Raine: February, 2017

By Raine Devries

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The holiday action kicked off in Dallas with the annual gathering of 1,082 children of Snowball Express (SBE) who were escorted everywhere they went in their 55 buses by 110 volunteer Patriot Guard Riders. SBE is a nonprofit whose mission is to serve the children of our fallen military heroes. The kids arrived into Dallas on December 11 for a five-day visit and had an opportunity to see the historic Stockyards in Fort Worth, be entertained by Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band concert, visit Medieval Times, pose for photos with motorcycles staged inside their host hotel—the swanky Hilton Anatole—and get new patches sewn onto their motorcycle vests that they each receive from the PGR. This year there were 244 children attending for the first time which is a sobering thought when you realize the only way a child can be part of Snowball Express is if their parent has paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Many of the PGR riders take vacation time from their jobs each year to volunteer to be onsite 24/7 to mentor the kids. “This was my seventh year to ride for the Snowball Express,” said PGR Brandon Beard who is employed at Southwest Airlines. “However, when I say ride, I really mean spending five days with my extended ‘family.’ This has become more than an event for those of us that volunteer; it’s now a dedicated week of service and love.” If you’d like to get involved, PGR is actively involved with SBE “Snowflake” events throughout the year and around the country. (www.PatriotGuard.org)… Mother Nature sure does have some serious fun with us Texans during the winter by always keeping us guessing! Take the weekend of December 17–18 in Dallas in which we had beautiful skies and temperature of a very pleasant 72 degrees on Saturday and the bikers were out in force. By the time the sun began to set, though, those balmy temps started plummeting until we were at 19 degrees with a wind chill of 6 the next morning. And, as luck would have it, that was the same day as the Big Texas Toy Run which is always held the Sunday before Christmas and attracts tens of thousands of bikers from both Dallas and Fort Worth who show massive generosity by donating money and toys. Most riders showed up as it got closer to the 1:00 p.m. KSU. Everyone was bundled tight in layers of leather and thermals and when the ride began it had warmed up to a brisk 22 degrees and the riders cheerfully saddled up for this annual fundraiser benefiting MHMR of Dallas and Tarrant Counties. (www.TheTexasToyRun.com)… Speaking of this ride, those in the North Texas region will recall that the nonprofit’s treasurer Todd McEvoy was indicted two years ago by the Dallas County grand jury for felony theft over $20,000 when he admitted to stealing almost $72,000 from the all-volunteer charity—and that money could have purchased a phenomenal amount of toys for kids in need. I spoke with the Dallas DA’s office for an update and, as of late December, this case is still slowly making its way through the system and I’ll keep y’all updated… Keep the shiny side up and I’ll see you next month!

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