The names of six soldiers from the area have been remembered over the past decade as their lives are celebrated through what is known as the KMS Memorial Ride.

The lives of Brent Koch, Kyle Miller, Joshua Schmit, James Wertish, Mathew Kahler and Ryane Clark, were taken too soon, as they served their country, and each August for the past several years a group of people has held this annual fundraising event in their honor.

This Saturday (Aug. 12) is the 10th annual KMS Memorial Ride, and it is also the final ride that is being held. 

Bikers of all walks of life are encouraged to participate in the ride this weekend, which starts and ends in Franklin but hits every community that has a connection to these soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

According to Josh Robertson, one of the KMS Memorial Ride board members, one year ago there were nearly 300 bikes that participated in the ride with 350 people participating.

“We would love to see 400 or more bikes this year, because it is the last one,” he said.

Registration begins on Main Street in Franklin at 9 a.m. and continues until 11:30 a.m. The cost to participate is $30 per person, which includes participating in the ride, as well as the meal and street dance following the ride.

Robertson said those who do not bike but still want to take part are invited to participate, as other vehicles will be available. The cost for them is also $30.

Funds raised during the KMS Memorial Ride have been used over the years to support veterans projects, as well as to present scholarships in the names of the soldiers to students at the schools they attended – Cedar Mountain, Yellow Medicine East, BOLD, Willmar and New London-Spicer.  

Robertson, and the rest of the KMS Ride board, which includes Roger Boettger, Ryan Robinson, Brian Pedersen and Laura Wahldick, are still discussing how the final funds will be allocated to make the biggest impact as the event ends.

The riders are scheduled to depart Franklin at approximately 12:15 p.m., said Robertson, and the group is scheduled to travel through a number of communities as they make the loop through the places the soldiers called home.

A list of approximate times the riders will come through each community can be found on the KMS Memorial Ride Facebook page.

Robertson expressed his appreciation to those who provide escorts for the riders, including law enforcement and fire department personnel.

He also encouraged those in the communities the riders will be traveling through to come out and cheer them on as they ride past. That, he added, is a great way to recognize and honor the heroes whose lives are being remembered.

Funds are also being raised through a raffle, with tickets available for $20 each. First prize is a 2017 Polaris ATV, with cash prizes also being awarded. A quilt will also be auctioned off at the end of the ride. Robertson said the quilt was made using the shirts from each of the 10 KMS ride events.

Following the ride, at 6 p.m. a meal is being served in Franklin, with the drawing at 7 p.m. A street dance with live music by Brat Pack Radio concludes the event.

The public is reminded to watch for the riders and to be safe when driving in those areas where they will be traveling.

All are encouraged to participate in the 10th annual, and final, KMS Memorial Ride.

Photo courtesy of the KMS Memorial Ride Web site