MANATEE -- They go by “biker” nicknames, like Mary “Bubbles” Mumea, Stacy “Captain America” Rhodes, Michelle “Tink” Delibert, Michael “Shutterbug” Whitney and Gil “Angry Bird” Craig.
But when it comes to helping out their fellow American veterans and their families, members of AMVET 301 in Ellenton get totally serious.
That’s why they didn’t hesitate when asked to participate in Sunday’s “Military Families Are Heroes Too” motorcycle Poker Run, Stacy Rhodes said.
“Military families make as big a sacrifice as their soldiers do,” said AMVET-301 member Rhodes who carried his friend, Mumea, and an American flag on his motorcycle during the poker run.
The goal of the run was to raise money for the 2 1/2-year-old Professionals Assisting Military Families and Friends, aka PAMFF, a Bradenton and Sarasota nonprofit organization dedicated to providing individualized and compassionate services to every military family, said event co-organizers Charmian Miller and Kim Bailey.
The run, which started at Hap’s Cycle on 17th Street in Sarasota at 10 a.m. Sunday, ended at the Tarpon Pointe Grill & Tiki Bar in Bradenton around 3:30 p.m.
“We had AMVETS, Blue Knights, American Legion Riders and DIVA Angels,” Miller said, referring to motorcycle groups. “We had more than 65 bikes arriving at Tarpon Pointe.”
Clancy’s Irish Sports Pub & Grill, Peggy’s Corral, Woody’s River Roo and Tarpon Pointe Grill & Tiki Bar served as poker run stops.
“It’s good to give back,” said Rayma Stowe, co-owner of Clancy’s on Cortez Road with her husband, Mel.
PAMFF founder and Sarasota resident Joyce Rubin said the event raised between $1,000 and $2,000. She said the money will go to pay the bills for needed future office space.
“This was our first experience with a motorcycle run and it was wonderful all the way around,” Rubin said. “They wanted to help and, especially help military families.”
PAMFF started with a conversation, Rubin said.
“Several of us wondered what it would be like if we had a child coming over from overseas who was staying in his or her room and not eating,” Rubin said. “We realized that soldiers who had post traumatic stress syndrome or depression had an impact on their families and there was very little available to those family members.”
There are eight professionals currently volunteering with PAMFF, including mental health counselors, a nurse, an attorney, educators and a woman who is a former office manager, Rubin said.
One of the people who could be benefited by PAMFF is Mumea, whose daughter, Andrea, is in the U.S. Air Force and served in Iraq and whose son, Garry, is in the U.S. Air Force and serving in Afghanistan.
“It’s hard,” Mumea said. “I try not to watch the news. I keep my friends and family close and I have to keep my mind occupied.”
For more information, visit www.pamff.org or call 941-383-0671.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686.