NORTH PLATTE, Neb. — A national motorcycle group has returned home.
It’s estimated that 400 members of the American Veterans Motorcycle Club are in North Platte as the nonprofit organization’s wraps up its annual convention.
The club has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the community 30 years ago. If someone would have asked Lee Barton, a founding member, in 1983 if he thought the club would grow to the extent it has, he probably would have laughed.
“I think there were only about six of us to begin with,” Barton said. “A guy that worked for the Union Pacific Railroad was in California and transferred to North Platte. He brought the idea of starting a motorcycle club for military veterans with him.”
According to Barton, it now has about 500 members in nearly a dozen states.
“People found out about the club through word-of-mouth and by seeing us wear the patch,” Barton said. “Its popularity just kind of snowballed from there.”
The group is made up of military veterans from all branches of the armed services. Barton said they share a common pride in three main areas: God, family and country.
The organization is also dedicated to helping communities. Most recently, the chapter in North Platte raised money for Landon Schroeder, 3, a boy who nearly drowned in May.
This year, money left over from admission fees to the convention and T-shirt sales will be donated to the Missing in America Project.
The goal of the project is to locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of American veterans.
“There’s veterans that have been cremated and never had a proper burial,” Barton said. “For whatever reason, they get stuck on shelves in funeral homes and forgotten about. I thought it was a neat project to be aligned with.”