Jan 14, 2023 | By: Justin Othoudt

MN United Snowmobilers Association Brings Annual Veterans Appreciation Ride to Bemidji

Just as the sun began to set over Lake Bemidji, dozens of snowmobiles were being parked for Saturday’s Annual Veterans Appreciation Snowmobile Ride, organized by the Minnesota Untied Snowmobilers Association (MnUSA) in collaboration with the Minnesota Snowmobile Education and Advancement Fund.

“It’s a ride for veterans to go out snowmobiling and get back out into nature, and have an opportunity maybe that they haven’t had to ride a snowmobile before,” said MnUSA President Scott Wakefield.

All the gear provided for the ride itself, including helmets, boots, jackets and lodging, were all provided by MnUSA for veterans participating in the ride.

“We bring the veterans up, we furnish snowmobiles, gear, room for two nights, breakfast, dinner, supper, breakfast again the next day, and show them a good time,” said Veterans Appreciation Ride co-founder Larry Shepherd.

Over 90 veterans have signed up for Saturday’s ride, each being provided with a top-of-the-line snowmobile for the event.

“They get to ride some beautiful brand new snowmobiles, sponsored by Arctic Cat and also Polaris this year, along with some other people that offered their snowmobiles for veterans to ride,” said Wakefield.

The ride hopes to not only honor veterans, but also to provide a chance for them to meet and bond over a mutual experience.

“It ends up being a very open affair, and it allows them to relieve themselves a lot of tension,” said Shepherd. “It makes it just wonderful, I believe.”

Each year the ride is held in a different location across northern Minnesota, with last year’s ride being held in Grand Rapids and featuring over 130 veterans in attendance.

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