Q. What exactly is the Gold Star Ride Foundation?
A. The Gold Star Ride Foundation is a small group of volunteers, including our founder who is a disabled vet, who have collectively decided to do something about a problem we have here in the United States. That problem is that our fallen heroes and their families are forgotten by far too many of the general population and far too many of our government agencies and representatives. In a world where terrorists are rewarded by their agents who are making sure their families wont for nothing forever, the strongest, bravest, and most kind nation on the planet should learn from them and take care of those families after a member of our fighting force loses their life. A medal of honor (posthumous) is a nice accolade, but the kids can't eat it, and it won't put anyone through college. That's what we do.
Q. What is a Gold Star Family?
A. Any family who has lost someone who has served in our nation's defense. We recognize the Vietnam vet who dies from cancer because he was exposed to Agent Orange while fighting. We recognize those who have lost a life to PTSD. We recognize those who were killed in car crashes, freak accidents, acts of terror and acts of war. To us, if they weren't serving, they wouldn't have been susceptible to that cause of death.
Q. When does the Ride take place, and where?
A. The Ride for 2018 is now in the record books, and the Ride for 2019 is being planned. We will be kickstands down in all the lower 48 states next summer. Each state we stop in will have at least one and as many as three Gold Star Family Stops.
Q. Who can join the Ride?
A. The Ride is open to any two or three wheeled vehicle and its passengers. Sorry, if you are in a car or truck, you’ll have to follow at a distance.
Q. How do you pay for all the expenses?
A. Our expenses are met by the generous donors who give money and merchandise to us.
Q. How do I donate?
A. We are currently restructuring our contracts to accept credit cards. You may call our offices (during business hours) with a credit card to make a donation, or you may mail a check to our offices (address on the contact page). You may also find, from time to time, a donate button on our Facebook page.
Q. How much does it cost to Ride?
A. There is no cost to riders who join the Ride. You are only responsible for your own gas, food, lodging, insurance and bike (or trike), license and following the laws of the state we’re in.
Q. How do you choose the families you will visit?
A. The families choose us. Confidentiality is crucial to them and to us. We do not ask families if we can visit. They honor us by asking us to stop, and we honor them when we do.
Q. I'm a crafter and I make patriotic stuff. Can I donate my art to the families you visit?
A. Of course! That's how we get most of the stuff we give to the families.
Q. I’m a Gold Star Family member. How do I get you to visit me and my family on your Ride?
A. Just send us an email. You can fill out the form on our contact page, or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org Be sure to leave us a phone number.
Q. Is there a cost to the families when you stop?
A. There is never a cost to Gold Star Families.
Q. What happens when you stop at a family’s home?
A. There is a short presentation with introductions to the Riders which includes an explanation of why we are there, who the hero was, what his or her life was like, and we create a short celebration of that life. We also present to the family any gifts that have been sent with us from our sponsors and donors. It is our intention and goal to be able to leave them with money for education also.
Q. What if I’m a Gold Star Family and I want a visit, but I don’t want to have a visit at my home?
A. This actually happens quite often. In this case, we work with the family and local communities to find an appropriate park or facility where our visit will take place.
Q. What if I’m riding with the group and my bike breaks down?
A. Part of our team includes qualified technicians and a trailer with parts and tools. The most likely result will be to push your bike into the trailer and take a look at the next stop.
Q. How do you choose the route?
A. We try to stay off the interstate highways. Other than that, we take the best route to the next stop, whether that next stop is lunch, gas, a family, or visiting one of our many sponsors along the way.
Q. How far in advance do you know where you will stop?
A. Most of the 2019 route is already in place. We are still working out details of exactly where we will visit families, where we will stop to eat and fill up with gas, and any side adventures (like museums and monuments) we would like to stop and see.
Q. I’d like to ride along, but I can’t take that much time off work.
A. That’s part of our plan and part of our charm. We anticipate every day we will meet new riders and say so long to riders who have to go home. We understand you may only want to Ride close to home. Join when you can, leave when you must.
Got a question not listed here? Send us an email. We'll get you an answer.
Origninally published March 29, 2018
People Are... (insert your favorite adjective here)
People are weird. People are hypocrites. People are strange. Here’s a story about people.
People won’t donate to help a charity, unless that charity has proven itself to be a success. Only the charities with 95% of the money going to help the actual people they say they are helping. Or will they?
That’s what people say.
A quick study of Goodwill Industries (we’ve all heard of them, right?) shows that just one of the 100's of regions served by that massive multi Billion (yes, with a B) dollar organization showed that $78 million was generated in 2016, and $77 million went to expenses.***
Makes you go hmmmm.
On a national level, that wonderful organization pays the top dog $454,000.00 annually**, as a base salary. And the people they help? Those people with disabilities who work in the stores? Some are paid as little as $.32 per hour.* That means they have to work more than 3 hours to earn a dollar. The founder of the Gold Star Ride Foundation has a daughter who qualifies to work there.The curiosity is whether the top dog there also has such a child?
Wow. But who among us hesitates to say that Goodwill is a good organization? Or who among us says they will never donate an item to Good Will? Who among us will ever say that they are corrupt, or that they stole money?****
The Gold Star Ride Foundation started with nothing, and quite frankly, no one cared. We started with all volunteers, and still no one cared. We started with our top dog earning a salary of zero. Nada. Nothing. Completely voluntarily. And that’s true for all the board members, officers and honorary board members. But still no one cares.
No one cared about us, no one donated to us, and no one cared that we would ever be able to fulfill our mission of taking care of families of our nation’s fallen heroes.
(That’s not completely true. In full disclosure, GSRF has received about $100 in cash donations from people on social media, although $30 of those donations came from the board members.)
Who cares about Gold Star Families anyway? One email we received said we shouldn’t bother because our military is completely voluntary and they all signed up for it, so if they get killed, we should all just move on.
We went one day, with about 100 people, to visit a young girl. At 22, she was a single mother with two children under the age of 3. But that’s her fault, right?
She married her high school sweetheart (“awe, isn’t that special?” you may ask…) who, along with his best friend, signed up to defend our country. Sure, they married young, but they had plans. Have kids, educate them while he works, then change the plans when the kids were older, she would go back to college and live out her dreams and they would enjoy this life together.
He was patrolling, protecting the country, when his best friend was killed while standing right next to him. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this personally, but that sort of experience will leave a mark on your brain. The 22 year old husband was diagnosed with PTSD by the VA hospitals in the States, were he was hospitalized for 2 months.
All good and fair, right?
Then the VA told him they couldn’t do anything else for him and sent him on his way.
A week later he was dead.
An estimated 22 people every day end their lives with similar stories. Personally, we at the Gold Star Ride Foundation think that number is closer to 65 people a day, and every one of them should be prevented.
Where does this leave the 22 year old single mother? No education, two kids to feed, a home that needs payments made on it, and no more income. Not only no more income, but our government, in its infinite wisdom, says that suicides aren’t covered and there are no military benefits for this single mom or her two kids.
She supported her husband by taking care of the home front. She did it with love and courage. Her husband, and her children’s father, is now dead because he volunteered to do something that 93 percent of all living citizens of these United States don’t do.
She has no choice but to leave her home, move into project housing, receive food stamps and other social assistance, and hope her children survive to adulthood.
That’s fair, right? That’s what she signed up for, right?
We don’t think so. This is just one example of what we do. There are no two stories the same.
So, we showed up at her door, a hundred motorcycles strong, and we helped her go back to college. That was 8 years ago. She’s now a productive member of her society, and still proud to be an American, still loves her country, and tries to teach her children to love it, too. She explains that their father is a national hero.
Who else started working for people whose families protect us?
We know you’re too busy.
That’s what we do, all day, every day.
Lately, some people have decided to say bad things about what we do. There has been talk that our people are stealing the money, or that we’re not reporting the money, or that we’re not helping the people we say we are. Well, we work pretty hard helping people, but if there are people out there who want us to stop what we’re doing so that we can pay attention to those false accusations, we will stop what we’re doing to pay attention to those false accusations.
Everything we do is available for anyone to view and study. In fact, if you happen to be a CPA and would like to volunteer your time, the way all of us volunteer our time, you can fill out these reporting forms for us. We’d love to have you.
The fact is, we started with nothing more than a principle that Gold Star Families have been ignored long enough, our government does nothing for them, and if it weren’t for them, we would likely be either living in a communist country or we’d all be speaking Arabic as a national language, if we were alive at all.
Think about that. If it weren’t for them, we would have nothing to protect us from those that don’t want to conquer us, but from those who want to kill us. If we didn’t have a military to fight back after 9/11, those hateful groups would not have stopped until each of us was either dead or converted.
Our enemies just want us dead. And those enemies do not care if we wear a military uniform or not. They want us all dead.
To be certain, this letter is not written for the 7% of families who donate a person to go defend our great nation. And it is a great nation.
This letter is written for all of those people who walk around every day working on their own goals and dreams, and just assume someone else will make sure they are safe in their bed at night and safe on their streets in the morning and safe in their place of work all day long.
We’ve been accused of not paying our bills. Not all of them, just one. First and foremost, all the money that we spend comes from a handful of donations and money that comes primarily from the board of directors. No one is paid – we are all volunteers. And no one is complaining that our bills are unpaid, except one person.
That person was a volunteer a year ago, who stopped volunteering because money wasn’t coming in as fast as work was going out, and a comment was made to this person that a very small amount of money would go to them as a thank you when our organization was solvent.
There are two words for what that volunteer did with libelous comments toward us in public - “bully,” and “coward.”
Most certainly, neither of those words will ever be used to describe a Gold Star Family. And it’s accurate to say that if you defame us, you defame all the families we support. You defame them, and everything they stand to uphold.
We are able to do what we do not because we were founded by someone with money like Bill Gates. We were founded by people who believed we needed to do something for these families.
We are fortunate to have had conversations with people who can help us, like the local marketing staff of Jim Beam Suntory and Grumpy’s Bar and Grill. There has never been any money leaving Jim Beam to come to the Gold Star Ride Foundation, however, we have worked together on a number of events and projects designed to raise awareness of what we are doing, and we’ve had some success with that. So drink smart.
Grumpy’s did write us a check for $725.00 which was a wonderful gift; although we had more than $1,000 in expenses to prepare for that one single event. It was wonderful, but a net loss of more than $250.00.
Remember, people are weird. In order for us to ask you to make a donation, we first have to promote all the donations that we’ve already received. Then, we don’t receive any additional donations and we are accused of stealing the money we didn’t get in the first place.
Yep, people are weird.
To reiterate, our organization is run by humans, and we humans make mistakes. Perhaps we should have not said anything to that volunteer, or perhaps we should have found a few dollars out of the pocket of a board member. But the truth is, that volunteer never approached us before libelous comments were made in public. That person never called us; never sent us a text or an email; no private message on FaceBook or any other social media asking us for that money; just libelous comments in public.
So, if we need to ask a volunteer to stop calling restaurants, gas stations, hotels and radio stations – which is what we do every day – so someone can spend the time to draft a letter like this one, then that’s what we’ll do. And if there is ever an additional public comment that is libelous in any way, we’ll ask one of our volunteers to go drive for one of those app-based transportation services for two weeks to generate enough money for us to hire the lawyer that will take this sort of thing to the next level.
Or, if you’re a good defamation attorney, and you’d like to volunteer for our organization, we’d love to hear from you.
Because in order for us to help a 22 year old single mother – or any other Gold Star Family member – we must first waste our time and money on people who love to hate.
Thankfully, we have partnerships with organizations that provide us services so we can continue, not money. Weston Choppers, for example, is our longest sponsorship relationship. We have never once received so much as a nickel in cash from Weston Choppers. We have received other things that keep us moving forward.
Our website is easy to find, and while you’re there you can see all the other organizations that help us get our job done. Only one has given us money, all the rest have given us services to get the job done. We are very thankful for these organizations.
All tax records are a matter of public information as per IRS rules. However, if you think we are fraudulent in our reporting, seeing what we report won’t change that. If you think that way, we invite you to bring to our attention any item, story, scuttle- butt, evidence, or disgruntled beneficiary of our services or disgruntled volunteer so that we can provide you with our side of the story. We will find the time to respond to all inquiries.
Or better still, we publish where we go. Why don’t you come and see us? Not only will you have a chance to learn the truth about us, you’ll get to meet some incredible people known as Gold Star Families.
Even if you don’t have a beef with us, come and see us anyway. No one pays to Ride with us, and we never charge anything to the families that we visit nor do we ask anything from them in any way, except to let us visit.
And if you are a Gold Star Family member, and you’d like to know more about what we do, apply for benefits, or schedule a visit from us, we’d love to hear from you as well.
After all, we do this all day, every day, only for Gold Star Families.
We guess it’s because we’re strange. People are strange.
**"Top Dog" salary based on information from Forbe's web site.
***Information about one location generating $78 million and having $77 million in expenses provided by that Goodwill locations website.
* Hourly wage information was found on Forbe's website. Please write to us in PM or email and ask for the link.
**** Our board members also donate to Goodwill. We are not using any information here to change anyone idea about that organization specifically, only to illustrate that money is a necessary tool for all organizations, charitable or otherwise.
-----------Contributed by the Executive Director of The Gold Star Ride Foundation---------
The Gold Star Ride Foundation will actively support, comfort and provide education benefits to Gold Star Families throughout the United States and will provide these things directly with personal visits via motorcycle; and we will support those other organizations that work to assist in these same activities.
The Gold Star Ride Foundation was formed in late 2016, and fullfilled all requirements of Minnesota law by registering as a non profit corporation, complete with bylaws and articles of incorporation. Additionally, we are registered with the Minnesota Attorney General's office, which is required for fundraising activities.We are registered with the IRS, and the IRS has acknowledged The Gold Star Ride Foundation as an official 501(c)3 organization meaning any donations are eligible for tax deductions. Talk to your tax advisor for specific tax information.
Our banking institution is First Resource Bank of Lino Lakes, MN. formerly known as Patriot Bank. You may click on the name or logo to visit their website. Donations may NOT be made directly to the bank. If you would like to make a donation, and you'd rather not use PayPal, you may send us a check via United States Postal Service. Our mailing address is on our contact page. Thank you for your support.