Wertz Warriors annual snowmobile ride to run Feb.3-9

Group to stop in Ogemaw and Arenac counties during first two days


OGEMAW COUNTY — The Wertz Warriors’ 32nd annual Snowmobile Endurance Ride is scheduled to run Feb. 3-9, with the group scheduled to stop in Ogemaw and Arenac counties in the first two days of the ride.

According to Wertz Warriors member Jack Irving, the group’s first scheduled stop of the trip will be at the Skidway Lake American Legion Feb. 3 around 9:30 a.m., before heading to the Skidway Lake Moose Lodge around 10:45 a.m. for lunch.

After a 12:45 p.m. stop at Sand Lake Sports Bar in National City, the group is scheduled to hit Arenac County with stops at Knoll View Golf Course in Au Gres around 2:40 p.m. and Hank’s Bar in Alger around 4:45 p.m., before ending Sunday’s portion of the ride at the Quality Inn Hotel in West Branch around 5:30 p.m.

The group is scheduled to begin Monday’s run with a breakfast at the Masonic Temple in West Branch around 9:30 a.m. before stopping at Dean Arbour Ford and Team Hodges on their way out of town to continue their trek westward.

At these stops, the group collects money to help fund the Special Olympics of Michigan winter games, which are scheduled to take place in Traverse City Feb. 5-8.

According to the Special Olympics of Michigan website, more than 800 athletes will be competing in this year’s winter games.

Irving said the Warriors are scheduled to stop at the opening ceremonies of the games Feb. 6 as part of the more than 900-mile trip.

“To hold the games, we try to raise between $320,000 to $350,000,” Irving said. “With these stops, we collect money from fundraisers these communities hold to go with the money we raise throughout the year through different fundraisers and events we hold as an organization.”

He said some of the fundraisers throughout the year include poker runs, spaghetti dinners, and other various events.

For the ride, Irving said there will be 102 Wertz Warriors coming along for the trip, with more than 60 members hopefully getting a chance to ride their snowmobiles. If there isn’t enough snow for the sleds to travel on, he said the group will transport their sleds in the semitrailers they travel with for the trip.

“We’ll have 65 guys riding sleds, if there’s snow,” Irving said. “Last year, we only had the sleds down for less than 100 miles, so we had to keep them in the trailer for the rest of the way. The snow just wasn’t there.”

To be part of the ride, riders must meet a fundraising commitment, usually of $3,500, and must use their own sleds and pay for any equipment they may need for the ride.

The Wertz Warriors were founded in 1982 by former Detroit Tiger Vic Wertz, who wanted to help fund the winter Special Olympics of Michigan games.

According to their official site, the Wertz Warriors have raised more than $8.8 million for Special Olympics of Michigan since their inception.

For more information, visit www.somi.org.


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