People don’t usually think of motorcycles when they think of Tombstone. The southern Arizona town is famous (or infamous) for the OK Corral, the Earp brothers, and Big Nosed Kate’s Saloon. And while the town certainly caters to tourists in search of Boot Hill, March 16th features something entirely different.
The Vets for Vets Fundraiser kicks off its fourth annual event in Tombstone with a poker run and pub crawl, along with many other cool activities. Conducted by Chapter 32-4 of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (CVMA), Vets for Vets is looking to top last year’s event which raised about $15,000 for veterans and veterans’ charities, primarily in the southern Arizona area. Their $20,000 goal for this year is lofty, but they have put together some great activities that will build on the momentum of previous years.
Chapter 32-4 regularly donates money to help Veterans like Jesus “Tom” Ballesteros pay their rent or utilities when they fall on hard times. Money raised during the annual fundraiser is used to help individual Veterans in Southern Arizona.
Festivities kick off at the American Legion Post 24 in Tombstone at 9:30 am. Aside from the poker run through Cochise County, there will be a mystery pub crawl through five different bars on the historic Allen Street. There is a cash prize for the high and low poker hands. The event will also feature a bike show and vendor area filled with veteran-owned small businesses and Veteran Support Organizations (VSOs) stationed throughout Southern Arizona. A $10 entry donation goes directly to helping Veterans in need throughout the area and a chance for a cash prize for the poker hand. Additional chances to win the cash prizes can be purchased to increase your odds of winning.
They will raffle off a Sig Sauer P320 in 9mm and a Springfield M1A in .308 caliber; both purchased from Apocalypse Arms, Sierra Vista, Arizona. Proceeds from the event will support a variety of veterans’ organizations including the Boulder Crest Veterans Retreat in Sonoita, AZ, the American Legion in Tombstone, as well as individual veterans in need. In addition to fundraising, Vets for Vets hopes to continue raising awareness about veterans’ issues such as PTSD, Suicide awareness, and treatment for mental health conditions.
One of last year’s winners in the gun giveaway raffle.
According to CVMA Arizona Public Relations Officer, Jason “SCOTCH” Schachter, “we hope to continue building a community and bringing people together; letting people know they have someone […] to reach out to if they need anything to be it financial, emotional, or anything in between.” With over 350 official attendees last year, it sounds like the plan is working.
The Vets for Vets Fundraiser will also feature local bands SKOVILLE, RAWJAM, and Heavy Hangs the Heart. Food will be available for purchase from the American Legion and will feature BBQ from Doug’s BBQ of Tombstone. So yes, you get to have a good time while also raising money to help out local veterans. Not seeing a downside? Me neither.
Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys are one of the sponsors for this year’s Vets for Vets Fundraiser.
If all that doesn’t twist your throttle, the Vets for Vets Fundraiser takes place in conjunction with Wild West Days. Organized by the Marine Corps League and sponsored by Tombstone area merchants, Wild West Days happens March 15-17 and adds, even more, to do with street entertainment all weekend a USO Canteen dance and even a parade. The town itself is already a destination, with many original buildings, plenty of history, and a gorgeous surrounding area.
Vets for Vets has a Facebook page with more details along with the event page for this year’s fundraiser. CVMA Chapter 32-4 also maintains a website with a contact form. For those who want to contribute but can’t make it, CVMA Chapter 32-4 is a 501(c)(19) and can accept donations online. Although really, how can you miss an event like this? Clear your calendar.
March is the time of year when Tombstone is just waking up from the colder months, which coincides with motorcyclists coming out of hibernation to enjoy some of the first warm riding days of the year. Piling all this stuff to do in mid-March makes this event a no-brainer.
A group photo of our chapter members after the Veterans Day Parade in Sierra Vista, AZ 2018.
We, motorcyclists, don’t usually need an excuse to go out and ride, but it’s still great to stop off at destinations that have cool things going on. Vets for Vets covers all the bases whether you’re riding or just coming to hang out, whether you feel competitive or just want a beer and a plate of food if you’re coming solo or bringing the wife and kids. There is something to do no matter what your motivation. Heck, if you want to see the world’s largest rose bush, they’ve got that too. Tombstone is way more than the OK Corral.
So while it may be famous for its brief time at the center of the silver boom and the many gunfighters it attracted, March in Tombstone is becoming synonymous with a wild-west-style salute to the troops.
Written by: Johnny Killmore Photos: Huachuca Mountain Chapter, CVMA 32-4