Ed Fruend of Carson City and some of his riding buddies are polishing up their bikes for Iron Nation's 8th annual Never Forget 9/11 ride Saturday in Reno and Sparks, a fundraiser for the families of Nevada soldiers killed in the line of duty.
"I heard about this parade when I first moved here and wanted to be a part of this very worthy cause, it is a great way to help and in a small way give back to the families whose loved ones gave all to defend our freedom," said Fruend, who works for the Douglas County School District in maintenance.
Eric Cooper of Gardnerville and about 15 of his "band of brothers" who come from all over Northern Nevada are also riding for this cause.
"First and foremost, we support this cause to remember that awful day - they were Americans. Three-thousand Americans lost their lives to terrorists. As Americans we need to remember them and their sacrifice."
Iron Nation motorcycle club has stepped forward to honor and make a difference in the lives of the families of fallen soldiers in Nevada.
Bob Dawg, president of Iron Nation motorcycle club, said the event started with around 50 bikes. By last year, it had grown to more than 1,000 bikes in the parade alone.
"Our whole goal is to not let people forget about that day and to raise as much money as possible for the Nevada Patriot Fund each year," he said. "The money goes to the families of fallen soldiers right here in Nevada."
"Since 2003, when the Nevada Patriot Fund was created, the organization has managed to raise close to $400,000. Iron Nation MC has raised about $75,000 of that," said Dawg.
Perry Di Loreto, former chairman of the Nevada Patriot Fund and current board member, said, "This is Nevadans helping Nevadans. We provide a death benefit to the families of our fallen soldiers in the form of a check, $12,000 to a family with dependents and $6,000 to a single family member."
"We are there to support them as soon as we hear about their loss, no questions asked," Di Loreto said. "We attend their funeral services and support the families."
Dawg said donations have been down about 40 percent since the economy soured, "so participation is going to play a key role in this year's success."
The event will feature guest speakers Reno Mayor Bob Cashell and Sparks Mayor Geno Martini, live music, food, vendors, a bounce castle for children, raffles and auction.
With the support of the Nevada Highway Patrol and Reno and Sparks police departments, riders will be escorted from Cottonwood Park in Sparks, throughout downtown Reno and Sparks and ending back at Cottonwood Park for the afternoon festivities.
The event isn't just for motorcycle riders, but is open to all who want to support soldiers' families, Dawg said.
"We were able to present a check for $15,000 last year (to the Patriot Fund); this year we pray to either meet or beat that amount. Riders from all over Nevada, surrounding states and even as far as Hawaii have come to support this great cause, and last year, representatives from over 38 Northern Nevada motorcycle clubs showed their support for our 9/11 ride. So please come out and help support this cause and most importantly our country."
• Dana Lee Fruend is author of "Irish Flame's Biker & Travel Guide to Nevada."