TAMPA, FLA. — Nearly 100 motorcyclists rode through the Bay area, on a mission, Saturday morning.
“It makes you feel good about our country,” said Rockie Lynn.
Lynn is the founder of Tribute to the Troops. It’s a non profit organization he started 17 years ago, In Minnesota. The travel around the country, every year, going on special rides to honor fallen heroes and their Gold Star Families.
“i’ve been riding motorcycles my whole life,” Lynn said. “This is the only ride that I’ve been on that has an exact purpose and destination.”
They had three destinations Saturday. The first stop was in New Port Richey to honor the family of USMC SSGT. Patrick R. Dolphin. Their second stop was Mission BBQ on Waters Ave, to honor the family of Army SGT. Julian Dexter Harris. Their last stop was the Alba Hotel, where their ride started. They held a special dinner, and they honored the family of Army Sgt. Adam Scott Flanery.
“It’s such an honor to come here and pay tribute to the Floridians who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom,” said Flynn.
ABC Action News was at Mission BBQ for Sgt. Harris’ family tribute. His mother, Lisa Mckitty, his sister Jade, and adopted brother stood together as Lynn and others spoke about how brave, kind, loving, and funny Sgt. Harris was.
“It’s been five years,” Lisa said. “The outport of love is amazing.”
His family enjoyed the celebration, especially his little sister.
“It was good,” she said, calling her big brother the best big brother in the world.
“He helped me through all of my tough times. He had good things to say about me, and he got me almost everything,” she said.
Harris didn’t die in the line of duty. That’s what makes Tribute of the Troops such a special organization. They honor all heroes, no matter how they died.
“They are still our heroes.” Lynn said. “It’s important that we let their families know we appreciate what they’ve done, and that we wouldn’t be free if it weren’t for the brave men and women who sign up to protect our freedom.”
You don’t have to be a veteran or active duty to be part of Tribute to the Troops. Many of their members are regular Americans who want to give back and say “thank you,” like Mike Sheets.
“It’s my way of giving back,” he said. “We thank the people who fought for our freedom and know that it means a lot to us.”
Tribute to the Troops will tribute three more families Sunday afternoon, in Ruskin.