SPRING HILL — Military veterans and their families in Hernando County will receive some much-needed help thanks to a group of motorcycle riders who place patriotism ahead of growling engines and burning rubber.
The riders represent the DD-214 Foundation, named after the document military members receive as they leave active or reserve duty. On Thursday, they presented a check for $11,000 to officers of the Marine Corps League Detachment 708 to be disbursed to veterans who are disabled or otherwise in distress.
The money was raised at a rodeo earlier this month at Bull-It Ranch in Spring Lake, which is owned by J.O. Batten, a Marine veteran of Vietnam service. The next rodeo fundraiser is scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 31.
The take included admissions by some 2,200 patrons, fees from vendors and vendor donations including $1,000 from Tim Reid, a T-shirt vendor, and $150 each from Jaybair Planchard and Jamie Frazier, who operated food stands at the event.
Last fall, the foundation donated $10,069. The detachment's chairman of the veterans' fund, Dick Moore, added $1 out of his pocket because he said he likes to deal in round numbers.
Along with Batten, the foundation was launched by Don "DonV'' Varrieur, who locally publishes a motorcycle magazine, Scootergoods, and Jim "Chickenman" Morrison.
"They say bad things about bikers, but these guys are fabulous,'' Moore said. "Without those guys, we wouldn't be able to do this."
Last year's foundation contribution, said detachment paymaster Chuck Sarges, paid for such things as gasoline and airline tickets for veteran family visits, food and utility bills.
Recipients are screened by the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa and the Hernando office of the Veterans Administration. "When we get a name from them, we're assured they are in need," said Marines detachment commandant Sal Barone.
Whatever county a needy veteran lives in, whatever the branch of service, doesn't matter, said detachment officers. The Marine Corps League's Spring Hill detachment is at 8405 Sunshine Grove Road.
After making the donation, Batten, who launched the foundation, rode off on a motorcycle with the U.S. flag, Marine flag and POW-MIA banner.
Beth Gray can be contacted at