Montvale Elementary School continues decades-long tradition of lunch with veterans

BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. – About 250 veteran motorcyclists made a stop for lunch at Montvale Elementary on Thursday, just like they do every year.

It all started around 20 years ago, from a simple connection.

“The kids noticed them riding by,” Principal Kevin Spaulding said. “They would go out into the yard and just wave to them. A couple years later they started stopping, and we offered them lunch, and since then it’s just grown.”

The ride is part of “Run for the Wall,” raising awareness for members of the military who didn’t make it home.

Vietnam Veteran Marty Gelbhar is one of hundreds that make the stop every year, as they travel between the Vietnam War Memorial in D.C.

“This is my 21st time here,” Gelbhar said. “It’s the greatest thing in the world.”

Not only was lunch served, but the kids put on a performance for the bikers singing patriotic songs.

“Until you’ve done the trip and you’ve experienced it, you can’t explain it,” Gelbhar said.

School staff said it only makes sense that the bikers and the students formed this unlikely bond because they have something in common.

“We are the little patriots,” Spaulding said. “This gives them people they can look up to and make a real-life connection to what that means to be a patriot.”

About the Author:

Amy Cockerham joined the 10 News team in January 2023.