CORNING | A donation of $10,500 raised by a group of dedicated bikers will help programs that support the military and veterans -- programs many may not be aware of.

Paul Simonson and Tom Doud, of the Arkport-Corning Harley Owners Group, presented a check Monday to the Finger Lakes Chapter of the American Red Cross from the proceeds from this year’s Ride for the Red, held in August.

The event, in its eleventh year, is a fundraiser for the Red Cross, but it’s target is more specific than that.

Simonson told the media in attendance at the check presentation ceremony to make sure the public was informed of where the money will go.

The funds raised are earmarked for the Red Cross’ Service to the Armed Forces program.

“The Service to the Armed Forces program of the American Red Cross is the oldest mission,” program Lead Volunteer Linda Conway said. “Starting with Clara Barton, when she tended to Civil War soldiers in the hospitals. We have carried that mission on, taking care of our active military and their families and our veterans and their families.”

She said that starts with making financial assistance available to servicemembers and veterans, as well as working with the National Guard, including Guard members who aren’t activated.

“We do loans through our military support or through the Department of Defense to help our veterans when they have a car break down, when they’re late on their rent, to pay bills [and other needs],” Conway said. “This money will go to those programs.”

Simonson noted that even many veterans aren’t aware these services are available through the Red Cross.

The programs also include providing comfort kits to veterans at the Bath VA and those who are homeless, and outreach programs to servicemembers overseas.

The funds will also help with the annual Military Salute barbecue event, held “to thank our veterans, and our military and their families for their service and their sacrifices to protect us and protect our country,” Conway said.

The Ride for the Red has donated more than $77,000 since its first year in 2009. This year’s ride from Big Flats to Hornell and back drew nearly 100 bikes and riders from around the area.

Red Cross Regional Executive Director Brian McConnell noted that the organization has a number of events coming up, including the Real Heroes Breakfast to be held in March 2020 at the Corning Museum of Glass.

The Finger Lakes Chapter is looking for nominations of “everyday people who have exhibited extraordinary courage … to save the life of another.”

A nomination form is online at, or nominate someone by emailing McConnell directly at

Nominations must be submitted by Dec. 6.