It's kickstands up Sept. 18 for annual Thunder Run

With many bearing large POW/MIA and American flags, hundreds of motorcyclists will pass through several North suburban towns for the 20th annual Thunder Run on Sunday, Sept. 18.

The ride's organizers hope the response from those who witness the somber parade is more than a brief, "Whoa."

"I want to draw the attention of riders as well as spectators, not only to the cause of bringing home our warriors who have been lost for up to 80 years, but also to the fact that this ride raises funds for a number of veterans' needs," said Wayne Kirkpatrick, a retired U.S. Army colonel and a member of Rolling Thunder Illinois Chapter 2.

"Among the things our Rolling Thunder chapter does is granting last requests to terminally ill patients at the VA hospital - anything from a special meal to some rock 'n' roll music," the Algonquin resident said. "We pay for it and deliver it."

Participants await the go-ahead to proceed along the route of the 2021 Thunder Run as they pass through Libertyville. Courtesy of Cynthia Wolf, Wolf Wordsmithing

The chapter also supplies a monthly stipend to Veterans Path to Hope to go toward food relief for their clients, and conducts MIA repatriation ceremonies, among other endeavors.

That is why, Kirkpatrick said, he and other ride coordinators - including Rolling Thunder Chapter 2 President Rich Lanute and Vice President Ted Makarewicz - hope for another great ride turnout.

The 20th annual Thunder Run departs the James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18.

Motorcyclists - and drivers of cars, too, - are welcome. Drivers pay $20 and passengers $10 for the fundraising ride. Participants will begin to gather at 8 a.m. at the federal health care center, 3001 Green Bay Road. Registration begins at 9 a.m. Chaplain Gary Holmes of the VFW Department of Illinois conducts a bike blessing at 10 a.m. A safety briefing follows at 10:30 a.m., with or kickstands up at 11 a.m.

As the police-escorted group passes through the various communities, riders hope many residents will take the opportunity to show their respect for the roughly 83,000 servicemen and women still listed as missing in action, and show their pride in their nation's heroes, Kirkpatrick, Lanute and Makarewicz said.

"The bikes will be flagged up with large POW/MIA and American flags, and Wayne always plays patriotic music," Makarewicz said.

"It's a great opportunity to get out and salute, clap or wave as the group passes by - to show and maybe talk with the next generation about what patriotism means and explain that freedom comes at a cost."

Participants will ride about 38 miles through North Chicago, Green Oaks, Libertyville, Volo, Lakemoor, McHenry and Bull Valley en route to the Woodstock Harley-Davidson, 2235 S. Eastwood Drive. Last bike in is anticipated to be about 12:30 p.m.

At the Harley-Davidson location, there will be music, raffles, food, patch embroidery and a number of vendor booths.

For more information, visit or email

Retired U.S. Army Col. Wayne Kirkpatrick of Algonquin leads the 2021 Thunder Run, a POW/MIA awareness and fundraising ride benefiting various veterans' causes. This year's ride is Sept. 18. Courtesy of Cynthia Wolf, Wolf Wordsmithing

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