The Bennett Family of Companies and the Taylor Family Foundation hosted the Thunder for Wreaths Ride on May 15, 2021. This annual event serves to raise awareness for Wreaths Across America, an organization that honors deceased veterans during the Christmas season. This year, Bennett partnered with local motorcycle groups and car clubs, and those participating rode in a single procession from Hampton, Georgia and finished in Americus, Georgia.
“Wreaths Across America aligns with Bennett’s Patriotism core value,” said Lee Gentry, Executive Vice President of the Bennett Family of Companies. “We have strong roots in the military with our employees, drivers and customers. Honoring our fallen heroes is a passion of mine, and for so many of our employees who have lost loved ones or choose to honor the sacrifice others have made for our freedom.”
The Atlanta Motor Speedway served as the start of the ride, where the third annual “Thunder of Wreaths” event welcomed 100 bikes, classic cars, and Bennett’s custom-wrapped tractor trailers honoring first responders, the Heritage Park Museum, and Wreaths Across America Mobile Education Exhibit. Before the ride began, Gentry hosted a brief ceremony at the Speedway, and he praised their efforts to raise funds for Wreaths Across America.
Other individuals that addressed the crowd at the event including: CEO of Bennett Motor Express, David Lowry; Andersonville Cemetery Superintendent Gia Wagner; Executive Vice President and Manager of the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Brandon Hutchison; Wreaths Across America Representative, Don Queeney; Andrew McBride Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, Kim Osborne-Turner; and Vice President of Maintenance at Bennett, Phil DeSouza.
After a safety meeting, the Henry County Police Department, Henry County GA Sheriff’s Office, McDonough, GA Police Dept., Newton County Sheriff and Sumter County Sheriff led the ride from their vehicles and motorcycles. The over 100-mile escorted convoy then traveled to Americus, Georgia. After arriving in Americus, the procession was led through the Andersonville National Cemetery where wreaths will be placed on the gravesites of fallen veterans during Wreaths Across America Day, December 18, 2021.
The convoy then made its way down to the Sumter County Fairgrounds for the “Thunder for Wreaths” event. Locals lined Route 19 and waved their flags while a UH-1 “Huey” Helicopter from the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation provided air support to the patriotic procession.
Guests also enjoyed seeing the Huey up close and being able to take helicopter rides over breathtaking views of Georgia. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., guests at the event were also able to enjoy fellowship, beautiful bikes, classic cars, custom-wrapped tractor trailers, food trucks, raffles, and local vendors.
At the fairgrounds, The Americus Police Department and Sumter County Sheriff’s Office also hosted the National Peace Officer Memorial Day Ceremony. This ceremony was held to honor fallen officers who were killed in the line of duty. At the close of the event, Bennett and the Taylor Family Foundation presented the Chief of Police and Sheriff for Americus Sumter County with a check for one thousand dollars to benefit the Smarr Smith Foundation. The Smarr Smith Foundation is a non-profit organization that honors relationships between law enforcement and the community.
Bennett’s goal this year is to raise enough money to cover 20,300 gravesites of fallen heroes at Andersonville National Cemetery with a tribute wreath during the Christmas holiday.
To learn more about Wreaths Across America or to sponsor a wreath, visit here.