U.S. Marine Corporal Christopher Bordoni died four years ago, in April 2012, and the 5th annual Bordoni Memorial Ride is scheduled for this Saturday, with a chicken BBQ to follow. The event will benefit the Ithaca Police Department K-9 Unit and the Saratoga WarHorse Foundation.
A 2008 graduate of Ithaca High School, Cpl. Bordoni was critically injured in a suicide bomber attack just weeks before he was to return home from his tour of duty in Afghanistan, and succumbed to his injuries several weeks later. A volunteer corps of Patriot Guard Riders escorted a motorcade from Syracuse’s Hancock International Airport to bring him home, along with dozens of police vehicles. The route was flanked by hundreds of Central New York residents paying their respects, and several fire departments along the route displayed American flags.
The Patriot Guard Riders also provided a flag line outside the calling hours and funeral service for Cpl. Bordoni, and “After getting to know the family, a group of us talked about putting a ride together that could honor Cpl. Bordoni and also give something back,” according to Gary C. Allen, a local motorcyclist who was a newly minted Ride Captain of the Patriot Guard Riders at the time. The first three rides donated proceeds to the New York Patriot Guard Help on the Homefront program, a volunteer outreach group providing support to veterans, families of deployed service members, and Gold Star families.
Four years later, Mr. Allen says he and other participants are part of the national Allegiance Law Enforcement Motor Cycle Club, and have continued the tradition of the annual memorial ride. Last year, at the Bordoni family’s request, the group split the proceeds between IPD’s K-9 Unit and the Saratoga WarHorse Foundation, and they’ll do the same this year.
Saratoga WarHorse is a program that connects military veterans with off-the-track thoroughbred horses, often retired racehorses. “Saratoga WarHorse creates a win-win situation for veterans and off-the-track Thoroughbreds by providing an effective alternative method for healing emotional wounds and offering the horses rewarding and meaningful work after their racing careers have ended,” according to Mr. Allen. The “three-day experience has proven to be effective and invaluable for those struggling to adjust to life after military service,” and the program is offered at no cost to the veterans. “By utilizing the silent language of the horse, a mutual trust and profound bond is established that goes beyond verbal communication.” Researchers are expressing a growing interest, and looking into the program’s effectiveness “in reducing symptoms of depression and posttraumatic stress as well as suicidal thoughts.”
Cpl. Chris Bordoni was a rifleman attached to the 1st Battalion 6th Marine Regiment, and served two tours in Afghanistan from 2008 until his injury in January 2012. He received the Leatherneck Award for High Shooter in boot camp, four Expert Marksmanship badges, the Purple Heart, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, NATO Medal ISAF Afghanistan, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Valor.
Registration for Saturday’s ride runs from 10-11:40am at the Newfield Fire Hall at 77 Main Street in Newfield, and all riders and groups are welcome. The registration cost is $20 per rider and $10 per passenger. A free benefit pin is available to the first 200 registered participants.
Riders will get a briefing at 11:45am, followed by kickstands up at 12 noon sharp, as the ride heads from Newfield on a route around Cayuga Lake.
The ride will pass the Calvary Cemetery on the west side of Route 13A, Floral Avenue, where Cpl. Bordoni is interred, and Mr. Allen says, “we ask anyone who doesn’t ride but would like to support and remember Chris to assemble at the Calvary Cemetery at 12:00 as we pass by. Bring a flag or we will have some to hand out.”
From there, the riders will proceed up Route 89 to Seneca Falls, around Cayuga Lake into Union Springs, King Ferry, and Lansing, and then back through Ithaca to the Eagles Club at 161 Cecil Malone Drive for a chicken BBQ that’s open to the public. The chicken BBQ will start at about 2pm.