Operation Sandbox hosts Ride for Troops

CONYERS -- Operation Sandbox has helped the lives of thousands of soldiers serving overseas, but founder Virginia Pearson and her group of volunteers always want to help more.

This Saturday, they're pulling out all the stops and hosting a motorcycle ride expected to draw as many as 1,000 bikers to raise money for the organization, which sends care packages filled with goodies and necessities to the troops.

Ride for the Troops will take place at Stone Mountain Harley-Davidson in Conyers, located at 900 Dogwood Drive. Registration for bikers begins at 8 a.m. and costs $20 for drivers and $10 for passengers.

Everyone is invited to attend a patriotic program honoring fallen heros, active military and veterans beginning at 10:30 a.m. The program will include the singing of the National Anthem, playing of "Taps," and recognition of veterans, along with several guest speakers, including Sgt. 1st Class Michael Fouse with the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Ky., who will speak about what it's like to receive a care package from Operation Sandbox. Lt. Gen. Steve Whitcomb will also address the crowd.

The ride will begin at around 11:30 a.m. and will meander through the countryside of Rockdale and Newton counties. During and after the ride there will be a live band providing entertainment for spectators, food and raffle prizes, including a 40-inch flat screen TV and a $500 gift certificate from Harley-Davidson.

"Spectators are being encouraged to come out, bring your flag and wave the bikers on as they ride to honor our troops," Pearson said.

The ride is expected to draw more than 1,000 bikers as it is being promoted in four states, Pearson said.

The first 200 bikers to register will receive a free T-shirt, Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit and Starbucks coffee. For more information, visit www.operationsandboxga.com or call 770-784-9155.