By John Lynds
The benefit bike ride that roars through East Boston each spring to help raise money for local wounded veterans got a boost from none other than Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump.
The GOP presidential nominee who has been the center of several controversies regarding his rhetoric that has polarized America recently came under attack for his contributions, or lack there of, to vet groups.
In January, Trump told about an event he sponsored that raised $6 million to support vet groups. He claimed to have donated $1 million of his own funds.
However, it was recently reported that only about half of that money was released to veterans charities so now the Trump campaign has been on a veterans charity spending spree.
Last week, founder of the Boston Wounded Vet Ride and former U.S. Marine Andy Biggio, received a check for $75,000 for the annual event.
While it may be a political move or damage control following bad press or simply an oversight by the campaign to not release all the funds raised back in January, the result is Biggio’s charity will get a big boost as it plans next year’s event.
“I’m speechless, and taken back. I opened the mail today to see that Donald J. Trump sent the Boston’s Wounded Vet Run a $75,000 donation,” said Biggio. “This is a tremendous jump ahead for honoring next years wounded veterans. I have one person to thank, and that’s Joseph Schiller, a Marine with whom I served in Iraq with who’s father is Trump’s right hand man.”
In his letter to Biggio, Trump wrote, “I’m very proud to make this donation to your organization for the wonderful service you provide to our nation’s veterans. Your efforts have made a significant difference to our heroes and their families on many levels.”
This year the Wounded Vet Ride helped raise money for Army SSG James Clark, Sgt. Peter Damon, Army Specialist Sean Pesce, Marine Sgt. Eric Rodriguez and Marine Sgt. Kirstie Ennis.
The annual Vet Ride is sponsored in part by the East Boston Italian American Veterans (ITAM) Post 6 and was founded by Biggio, who spent six years in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Biggio started the Vet Run six years ago after meeting a wounded veteran a few years ago at another fundraising event held annually at Fenway Park.
“Every year Boston’s Wounded Vet Ride will be dedicated to a different veterans,” said Biggio. “The motto of the Vet Run is “They Fought, We Ride.”