Idaho Patriot Thunder raises money for veterans and active service members

Posted at 1:23 PM, Jul 16, 2023

MERIDIAN, Idaho — Mike Gabler won the popular reality show Survivor, but he did something different with his one million dollar prize. He decided to donate it all to help veterans.

We caught up with Gabler at the 13th annual Idaho Patriot Thunder where he participated for the first time in the ride for charity from Meridian to Mountain home with 1,200 other riders.

Mike Gabler and his wife chats with a police officer

"I’ve never ridden a Harley Davidson until a few months ago, but they have a learn to ride program," said Gabler. "I’ll be on a Harley today, it is a terrific charity, great cause, amazing people and the only thing more American than our soldiers and our veterans is Harley Davidson."

This is a huge event for veterans who love to ride

The ride features several different veterans groups and organizations with one of them being the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association 13-2 out of Boise.

"The Patriot Thunder ride is the biggest veteran support ride in Idaho and they raise money for good causes," said Ian Freeman of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association.

Riders left from the Harley Davidson in Meridian

This year the ride will raise money for Operation Warmheartand the Idaho National Guard Family Support fund which helps service members families deal with life while their soldier serves oversees.

"When you start these bikes they will hear you and that energy keeps them going every day, " said Gen. Timothy Donnellan of the Idaho National Guard. "Unfortunately, you will never know the impact you had, but please trust me you are having an incredible impact."

Gen. Donnellan addresses the riders

It's quite a sight to see all the motorcycles take off from the High Desert Harley Davidson as they rode toward Mountain Home with a police escort.

"I never had the honor of serving and it is my honor to serve those who have served us," said Gabler. "We are doing our very best, High Desert Harley Davidson is doing their best, everybody out here is doing their best for veterans and God bless the USA."

It was also the hottest day of the year as riders were encouraged to hydrate, but it's tough to beat the camaraderie with so many different characters coming together to ride for a good cause.

"Riding a bike is really different then anything else you do," said Gabler. "It's really elegant though the bikes are big and powerful, but the controls it is very subtle so it is awesome to enjoy a fun, free Idaho adventure man."

The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association will host a bike night at Harley Davidson next Friday starting at 5:00 p.m. with veteran support vendors, food vendors and motorcycles.