Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The Dorn VA Hospital held their 17th annual Veterans Charity Ride on Sunday.
Hundreds of bikers from across the nation made their way to Columbia for the event.
"This is an opportunity where community can get together with our Dorn family to celebrate our veterans and bring gifts in to make their holiday brighter," says David Omura, medical center director.
"My husband is a veteran, my two children are veterans, it just holds a special place," says Gina Haught, who has participated in the ride for the past three years. "When we got out this morning, it was below 30 degrees, but we knew that we were going to go home to a warm house, but our veterans don't get to go home to a warm house. I respect them and appreciate everything they do for us."
Once at the hospital, the ride participants delivered the goods by creating a human chain, passing donations to the hospital's Christmas tree.
Included in that chain, was USC Women's Basketball Coach Dawn Staley, who enjoyed giving back.
"With all the gifts that were given out and accumulated to go on to the veteran hospital tree for the veterans, the outpour of support the community has given this event is quite incredible," says Staley. "So if I can be apart of that human chain each and every year and give back to the veterans that's what I'm going to do."
In the past 16 years, the event has raised more than $945,000. The medical center director says he hopes this year's donations will bring them to the $1 million mark.
However, Omura says just seeing the community interact with the veterans makes the event worthwhile.
"They can walk away better appreciating them, better understanding their sacrifice and finding ways to celebrate with them as a larger part of their extended family."
Omura says that the gifts will be distributed to the veterans from December 11-13.