Up North: Save A Warrior Ride caps off feature events at Echo Valley Motopark

Alicia Tipcke
Updated: September 30, 2020 11:20 PM

Fall colors, loud engines, and a lot of dirt covered the Echo Valley Motopark in Brookston, Minnesota last weekend. 

"I really like racing at Brookston because my brother [has] been doing it since he was five," said 14-year-old racer Maggie Smith.  "I've been down here for the last 10 years, and [it's] really fun."

Hundreds of riders of all ages geared up and gassed up their bikes for the district's (District 23) final points race of the year.

"Overall, like yearly, you get average points and most of the points is like a jacket and stuff with your number on it," said rider Gunnar Kenowski.

Sunday's race didn't just help riders rack up better scores, it was also the Save A Warrior Ride, a fundraiser for Save A Warrior. The national program helps veterans struggling with PTSD by offering them a number of services, including therapy.

"I mean [the money raised is] going to directly affect a couple people coming through our program," said Adam Carr, the executive director of Save A Warrior. "Their families will be enriched...moving forward."

The idea for the Save A Warrior Ride started with the Goon Squad. It's a local motocross team that's been raising money to outfit youth riders with racing equipment for years. When they first started, they donated one pair of boots. This year they were able to donate 22 pairs of bike boots. 

As their program continued to grow and raise money, they started searching for a bigger cause to donate to.

"One of our members, he's a veteran in the army [and] he served in Iraq. He found a program Save A Warrior, came back, and told us some pretty inspiring things about this program. So, a light bulb came back on [and] we had a cause," said Goon Squad team member Josh Ugrich of Grand Rapids.

Through raffles and donations they raised around $7,000 over the weekend for Save A Warrior. 

"We just really kind of put our heads to the ground, and our boots to the ground... to get everything going," said Nick Spafford, a Goon Squad team member who helped organize the partnership ride.

As the checkered flag flies on this season, Good Squad members said they hope to continue their charity rides next year.


Alicia Tipcke

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