Photo by Karen Yekel/Fall River County Herald
Residents, staff, local riders, & more gathered in front of the State Veterans Home to welcome the Old Cronies Motorcycle Enthusiast riders from Aberdeen.
By Karen Yekel
HOT SPRINGS – Back in 2015, Brett Schaible of Leola, S.D., decided to put together a new motorcycle enthusiast riding group, out of Aberdeen. The “Old Cronies” ride as a group in countless fundraising runs and rides for charitable causes. “This is not a motorcycle club, said Schaible. “We are motorcycle enthusiasts and we just love to ride.”
They also love veterans, as evidenced by their recent stopover in Hot Springs to present a check for funds they raised to benefit the Michael J. Fitzmaurice South Dakota State Veterans Home.
“Normally in the past we’ve had a lot more for you, but we had a little reorganization going on,” said Schaible to Superintendent Brad Richardson as he presented a check for $1,000. “But it includes an autographed bottle of whiskey,” he joked as he also presented a signed bottle by Big & Rich’s John Rich, who owns a whiskey distillery.
“Hopefully, this money will help with the activities of the residents,” Schaible said, “Get them out fishing, and going to ball games.”
Schaible, visibly moved by the gathering of SVH residents at the front entrance, said, “We enjoy coming out here from the flatlands and seeing this beautiful country and you beautiful people. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you’ve sacrificed over the years.”
Richardson said, “We’re glad you’re here and you make a difference and add value to our organization. We’ll put this in our activities fund and we’ll use it for what these men and women like to do and through donations like this is how we get to do it. Thank you so much.”
The Cronies love the opportunity to cross the state, not only to help veterans, but to enjoy the beauty offered by the Black Hills. Schaible said, “The reason I went with Hot Springs is because my dad was a veterans’ service officer, and there was a needs list out here. We don’t have a veterans’ home in Aberdeen, and we wanted to keep our donations in South Dakota. It’s a good excuse for us to come here. We just fell in love with this place, which is why we keep coming back.” Just about everyone on the Cronie roster is a veteran, according to Schaible.
In past years, the Cronies have made patriotic park benches for the campus and a large trunk painted military green was made by members of the group, and their families. An inlaid stained glass American flag superimposed with an eagle was made by an eight-year old boy. Richardson said they often use the chest with memory care patients. “We put things in there and take them out, show them around, and see if folks remember what the items are,” he said.
Tours and lunch were offered to the participants, who were then planning a ride through the Needles and on Iron Mountain Road. Legion Riders from both Hot Springs and Rapid City chapters were also on hand to welcome the Old Cronies to Hot Springs.