Coast Guard Rallies for a Cause

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Evanson
Coast Guardsmen stationed throughout the Hampton Roads region of Virginia participated in a motorcycle rally for Coast Guard Mutual Assistance in Portsmouth, Va., Sept. 22, 2007.

Over 65 riders showed up for the “Rider on the Storm” motorcycle rally and donated money out of their pockets even though nasty rain clouds loomed above. The bike route was 53 miles long and culminated with a barbecue at local park where a check for $3,000 was presented to Capt. Steven Andersen, commanding officer of Integrated Support Command Portsmouth and regional director for Coast Guard Mutual Assistance.

“The motivation behind the rally, which was the idea of four junior officers in the region, was to do something that we all enjoyed doing and turn it into something positive on a much larger scale,” said Lt. j.g. Jeff Janaro, executive officer of the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Albacore homeported in Norfolk, Va., and rally organizer.

“We named our riding club ‘Riders on the Storm’ because it is not only the name of a song by one of our favorite bands, The Doors, but also since it is an appropriate name for a group of bikers that earn their living riding the stormy seas of the Atlantic with the Coast Guard,” said Janaro.

Coast Guard Mutual Assistance is a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to Coast Guardsmen, civilians and dependents in need. Today, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance offers aid to the entire Coast Guard family, active duty and retired military personnel, civilian employees, commissioned officers of the Public Health Service serving with the Coast Guard, reservists, auxiliarist’s and their families.

In 2006, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance left a big footprint providing $5.8 million in assistance to more than 6,500.  CGMA disbursed $4 million in interest-free loans, $1.2 million in Personal Grants to 348 recipients most of whom were Hurricane Katrina victims and $446,900 in Supplemental Education Grants and Education Loans to over three thousand recipients.

The majority of mutual assistance recipients in 2006 were junior personnel. 86 percent of the assistance provided went to petty officers, non-rates, and lower level civilians.

“We were a bit concerned about the weather, but thankfully it did not deter any of the participants who came out to support this wonderful cause,” he said.

In addition to donations by Coast Guardsmen, the event was aided by contributions from local businesses. Bayside Harley Davidson Dealership in Portsmouth and The Raven Restaurant of Virginia Beach, Va., donated a significant amount to the cause. The ride was full of winding turns and spectacular views.

“Due to the success of this first rally, the ‘Riders on the Storm’ are already planning our next rally or event to continue supporting our community and the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Janaro.

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