WILMINGTON — They heed the call. A fellow veteran needs a helping hand, and Tom Fisher, a veteran himself and motorcycle rider, jumps into action.
Fisher, a Wilmington resident, is part of the Bay Street Riders, an American Legion veteran biking group which works to support veterans and their families in communities in and around Massachusetts. In an interview recently, Fischer explained that there are many veterans rider groups, each with a slightly different focus, but all formed with the core mission of helping other veterans and their families.
“We do a large food and clothing drive for a transitional home for veterans twice every year, have helped build a wheelchair ramp, helped with cleanouts and more,” said Fisher.
Beyond physical labor, the group has provided an honor-guard presence, creating motorcades for veterans funerals, and escorts to cemeteries for burials.
“We are not a scary bike group,” Fisher said, impressing that the groups use their “noise” and presence to raise awareness.
Groups from Woburn, Cambridge, Wilmington, Chelmsford and Hamilton came together recently to help a veteran in Tewksbury.
“We received information from Veterans Agent Lou Cimaglia in Wilmington who knew of a situation he thought we could help with,” said Fisher.
The primary way the group is engaged is through word of mouth, though Fisher said people can contact him through Baystreetriders@gmail.com.
Fisher explained the colorful rocker patches and jackets each group wears.
“I tried to come up with a creative name for the Chapter, and decided on Bay Street since the American Legion is on that road,” Fisher said.
The Dirty Water Chapter is from Cambridge, Chapter 313 is from Chelmsford, Chapter 101 is from Woburn, Chapter 194 is from Hamilton. The chapters participate in Veterans Day and Memorial Day parades. Fisher said that riders must have a motorcycle and be a member of the American Legion, Sons of the American Legion, or Ladies Auxiliary.
Tewksbury does not have an American Legion riders group so Fisher is open to inquiries. Fisher also explained that families from all over can reach out, not just Wilmington area residents.
According to Mike Frotten, Wilmington’s veterans agent, and Lisa Downey, Tewksbury’s veterans agent, the best thing to do is reach out to your local office of veterans services and then they can make the appropriate connections based on the needs or services required.
“We all work together,” said Frotten of area VSOs.