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Second ‘Ride for Jeff’ planned for August

  • Charles County,St Mary's County,Calvert County,Prince George's County,Anne Arundel County
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Jeff Lehnen Jr.Hughesville, MD – It is a means for honoring and remembering a beloved son and brother plus it raises awareness of a scourge that has damaged America’s soul. The roar of engines and the sight of several hundred motorcyclists on mission is happening for the second year in a row. The 2018 “Ride for Jeff” is planned for Sunday, Aug. 26.

The event organizers, Jeff Lehnen and his son, Ray, told TheBayNet.com that this year’s ride will have some significant changes from last year’s maiden motorcycle trek. Of course, some things from last year will remain intact. That includes the reason for the event—as a means for honoring the memory of Jeff Lehnen Jr. (pictured, above), a veteran with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne, who died suddenly in August of 2016. The riders aim to raise awareness of the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and raise money for the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home. This year another local entity—Risinger Outdoor Endeavors—will also benefit from the ride.

The 2018 Ride for Jeff will travel through all Southern Maryland’s counties—including the southern portions of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel. The gets rolling Sunday morning, Aug. 26 at All-American Harley Davidson in Hughesville. The signup starts at 8:45 a.m. with kickstands up at 9:45 a.m. The riders will first travel south on Route 5 to the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home. Next they’ll get back on Route 5 and head north with the next stop the Maryland Veterans Cemetery off US Route 301 in Cheltenham. The bikers will ride into the cemetery and place small American flags on the graves. The riders will then travel north on US Route 301, exit onto Route 4 south and keep traveling with the final stop in St. Leonard at The Tavern for a post-ride party. There will be food and live music by the band Taboo. “It’ll be just big ol’ St. Leonard party,” said Lehnen.

The cost is $20 per rider and $5 per passenger. Lehnen said for those individuals who like to only attend the post-ride party, the cost is $20 per person.

Lehnen also explained that a portion of the proceeds will be used for the purchase of a kayak for Risinger Outdoor Endeavors, a nonprofit 501(c) (3) dedicated to teaching coping skills to vets suffering from PTSD. The founder, Jim Risinger, told TheBayNet.com that outdoor activities like kayaking and fishing provides veterans coping with PTSD a great venue for one-on-one counseling. “It’s a place to talk,” he explained. Add to that the concentration required to negotiate a kayak or catch fish and the adrenaline rush both activities provide and the on-water activities often prove therapeutic. “Many veterans find it easier to share experiences with those who may have experienced the same,” Risinger wrote on his nonprofit’s web site. “We introduce coping skills that can be used in any environment. By utilizing coping skills and other methods of mental recovery these veterans are able to mentally relax and in time become more like the person they were before the trauma.” Risinger said he used to rent kayaks but that proved costly. “I didn’t feel comfortable asking people for donations,” he said. So now he has assembled a fleet of kayaks. Risinger called Lehnen’s event to honor his son “right along my alley. Hopefully, I’ll pick up a few new vets to go kayaking.”

According to Ray, the 2017 Ride for Jeff had 352 bikers participating. “I’m thinking anywhere from 300 to 500 this year, mostly local people. We’ve received a lot of donations from people who couldn’t come.”

Jeff Lehnen is now the sales manager at the new Bayside Auto Group’s Pre-Owned Super Center in Hollywood. He credits Bayside Auto Group President Geoff Wanamaker for providing a great location for the start of the ride and additional support to ensure the ride’s success.

Jeff Lehnen Jr. was 33 when he died. He had done several tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. The 101st Airborne is a light infantry division that constantly engages in combat. The elder Lehnen said PTSD had a devastating impact on his son. Raising awareness of PTSD and supporting a facility like Charlotte Hall Veterans Home and an organization like Risinger Outdoor Endeavors is the reason the bikers will ride again in August.
For more information about the Second annual Ride for Jeff, visit the event Facebook page.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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