2018-07-20 / Front Page

One final ride for Wounded Heroes

By Abigail Worthing Staff Writer


Motorcyclists embark on the Wounded Heroes Ride to benefit injured veterans in Maine. Nearly 400 motorcycles participated in the event on July 14, which was the 10th and final ride sponsored by the Wounded Heroes Program. (Abigail Worthing photo) Motorcyclists embark on the Wounded Heroes Ride to benefit injured veterans in Maine. Nearly 400 motorcycles participated in the event on July 14, which was the 10th and final ride sponsored by the Wounded Heroes Program. (Abigail Worthing photo) SCARBOROUGH – After 10 years serving Maine veterans, the Wounded Heroes Program bid farewell to the community with its 10TH annual Wounded Heroes Ride.

Saturday’s ride began at the Maine Veterans Home in Scarborough and ended at Bentley’s Saloon in Arundel and collected donations for the Maine Veterans Homes and three veteran fishing tournaments.

Since its inception in 2008, Wounded Heroes has been a transitional safety net to injured veterans returning home from deployment.

The all-volunteer organization, founded by Biddeford resident Pam Payeur, has worked to provide aide to those in need and help veterans navigate the complex and at times confusing system to receive benefits. Following the draw down of troops in conflict, Wounded Heroes received fewer and fewer calls, and decided to slowly phase out the program, with the July 14 ride serving as its send off to the community.


Wounded Heroes Program founder Pam Payeur, speaking at Maine Veterans Home in Scarborough, displays a quilt featuring Wounded Heroes Ride commemorative T-shirts from the past 10 years. The quilt was raffled at the completion of the ride at Bentley’s Saloon in Arundel. (Abigail Worthing photo) Wounded Heroes Program founder Pam Payeur, speaking at Maine Veterans Home in Scarborough, displays a quilt featuring Wounded Heroes Ride commemorative T-shirts from the past 10 years. The quilt was raffled at the completion of the ride at Bentley’s Saloon in Arundel. (Abigail Worthing photo) The ride saw 388 motorcycles participate, and for many, this is a yearly tradition.

“I usually cry the whole way,” said Robin Norton, a Standish resident who has participated in the ride for four years. “The vets love it, and people will stand and salute and wave the whole way. It’s amazing.”

Among the riders was Mrs. York County, Suzette McPherson. A Saco resident, McPherson has participated in the event for three years and was riding on her own motorcycle alongside her husband, an Army veteran.


The Wounded Heroes Program team stands at attention as Cara Here sings the national anthem during the organization’s sendoff on July 14 at Bentley’s Saloon in Arundel. (Abigail Worthing photo) The Wounded Heroes Program team stands at attention as Cara Here sings the national anthem during the organization’s sendoff on July 14 at Bentley’s Saloon in Arundel. (Abigail Worthing photo) “This is a great fundraiser,” McPherson said. “I’m proud to be here representing York County.”

Prior to the beginning of the event, riders and volunteers met at Maine Veterans Home in Scarborough, where breakfast was provided and riders mingled while waiting for the start. Volunteer riders with sidecars and three-wheel motorcycles gave residents from the Maine Veterans Home the chance to ride while bystanders cheered them on.

Bentley Warren, owner of Bentley’s Saloon and a veteran himself, has been a longtime sponsor of the ride and greeted every veteran individually prior to the ride.


Maine Public Safety Pipe and Drum Corps member Brian Young of Scarborough performs “America the Beautiful” for residents of Maine Veterans Home prior to the Wounded Heroes Ride to benefit injured veterans in Maine. (Abigail Worthing photo) Maine Public Safety Pipe and Drum Corps member Brian Young of Scarborough performs “America the Beautiful” for residents of Maine Veterans Home prior to the Wounded Heroes Ride to benefit injured veterans in Maine. (Abigail Worthing photo) “It’s an honor to go to the veterans and to say ‘Thank you for giving us a free country,’” Warren said.

Riders wore pins with a picture of Diane Parker, a Wounded Heroes board member who died last year after a 15-year battle with cancer. Parker died two weeks following the ride.

“Diane was an absolute angel. She never would have allowed us to stop what we’re doing. She would kick my rear end,” said Payeur, addressing the crowd before the ride. “We’re wearing these so she can ride with us one last time.”


Pam Payeur, founder and director of the Wounded Heroes Program of Maine, delivers a final address to riders at Bentley’s Saloon following the organization’s 10th and final Wounded Heroes Ride. In front of the podium are three empty chairs honoring the three members of the board who have died. The center chair featured a pin with a picture of Diane Parker, who died last year two weeks after the ride. (Abigail Worting photo) Pam Payeur, founder and director of the Wounded Heroes Program of Maine, delivers a final address to riders at Bentley’s Saloon following the organization’s 10th and final Wounded Heroes Ride. In front of the podium are three empty chairs honoring the three members of the board who have died. The center chair featured a pin with a picture of Diane Parker, who died last year two weeks after the ride. (Abigail Worting photo) As riders prepared to mount their motorcycles, Sgt. John O’Malley of the Scarborough Police Department gave a safety briefing, instructing participants to stay in staggered formation for the duration of the ride and to stay slow and steady.

“With this many bikes, it’s a parade, not a ride,” said O’Malley to laughs from the crowd.

Before the ride, Brian Young of Maine Public Safety Pipe and Drum Corps played “God Bless America” on the bagpipes. As riders mounted up, Young went to the front of Maine Veterans Home to play for the veterans, who were seated and carried flags. Prior to beginning the ride, which traveled down Route 1, riders looped in front of the building, waving to cheering residents.

As they arrived at Bentley’s Saloon in Arundel, they were heralded by a large banner stretching over Route 1 that read, “A True Hero: Pam Payeur.”

“She’s the rock. Pam saw that this was something that needs to be done,” said Lisa Zatalava, Bentley’s Saloon manager. “Our veterans need to be taken care of.”

The Maine Public Safety Pipe and Drum Corps played a selection of patriotic songs, while the AMVETS presented colors. Board members were seated on the stage and three chairs were left empty for deceased board members, including Parker.

“We miss them every day. We love them and we love what they’ve given us. We would never use their passing as an excuse to not continue working, because they wouldn’t allow it,” Payeur said.

During Payeur’s farewell speech, she thanked her team, family and local sponsors, including York Federal Credit Union, which donated $1,000 toward the event.

Among the speakers during the ceremony was Maureen Carland, administrator of the Maine Veterans Home. She announced the home would sponser the Wounded Heroes Ride so that it may continue as an annual event.

“This is such a fabulous event. The Veterans Home will continue this ride to honor all those who served, “Carland said. “We’ll see you next year.”

Payeur founded Wounded Heroes after her son, Col. Michael J. A. Payeur, retired tanker of the U.S. Army, returned from Iraq with a traumatic brain injury. When a clerical error led to a halt in his care, Payeur began working tirelessly to ensure her son was getting the care he needed. Payeur has said that she knew that if she could fight for her son, she could fight for other veterans in need.

“I knew we couldn’t stop until I got signed off by a certain individual,” Payeur said during her speech, referencing her son. “I wanted to be sure we wouldn’t be leaving anyone behind. I would have kept going. When I asked him, he said, ‘Nope, ya done good.’ That’s all I needed to sign off that it’s time.”

Payeur said she has worked hard to ensure that her son doesn’t become the “poster child” of the organization, and was pleased when he agreed to speak at the event.

“She had this in her already. She never stops. Just watching her, I need a nap,” Col. Payeur said. “When someone finds their true calling, there’s no stopping it.”

“We’re just decent humans trying to do the right thing. We are proof that things can be done differently,” Pam Payeur said.

The Wounded Heroes program will continue to host three fishing tournaments annually, where area captains donate their boats and time to allow veterans an opportunity to meet.

Since the organization has decided to phase out its existence, Payeur has been approached by those who want to take over the effort, which she has firmly declined.

“It’s not OK. If you want to start a ride or a 5K, do it yourself. Don’t try to take credit for our hard work,” Payeur said.

When asked about how she feels about closing this 10-year chapter in her life, Payeur says she feels a lot of things, but that it’s bittersweet. Up next for Payeur are plans to spend time with her family and to write a book detailing her mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s.

But as for her plans for the rest of her weekend?

“Absolutely nothing,” said Payeur with a smile.

Staff Writer Abigail Worthing can be reached at news@scarborougleader.com.

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