All of them came together Sunday morning for a common purpose -- to show their appreciation for those who serve their nation.
For the third consecutive year, the Mountain Home community welcomed these hundreds of motorcycle riders as they roared through the city during this year's Patriot Thunder.
Escorted by city, county and state law enforcement officers, this record-setting procession of more than 750 motorcycles started their annual journey in Meridian. Once they left the interstate, they were greeted by people like Sonny McCullom and Teri Lasuen, who waved as the procession rolled down East 8th North Street to Carl Miller Park.
Patriot Thunder seeks to raise money for charities that directly benefit current service members, military veterans and their families. Among the ones that benefit from this effort include The Wounded Warrior Project, the Idaho National Guard and Reserve Family Support Fund as well as Operation Warmheart at Mountain Home Air Force Base.
"This is about giving back to those who serve," said Todd Godfrey, a group spokesperson. "There's no one better to give back to than those who serve in the U.S. military."
While there are many great charities out there that touch people's lives, "it's the military that touches the lives of everybody in this nation," Godfrey added.
As of Monday, the yearly campaign had already passed the $25,000 mark with money still coming in, according to initial reports. Organizers will equally distribute proceeds between these charities, each of which focuses on caring for military families across the state. They plan to formally present the money to each of the charity groups during an upcoming ceremony.
Patriot Thunder "brings out the best in people," said Randy Danner, vice president of the Green Knights military motorcycle club at the local Air Force base. "Bikers have big hearts and are always willing to donate, especially when it comes to the military community."
This year's record-setting participation emphasizes how much people are willing to get involved in these types of benefits, according to Danner. When the word gets out, people come out in force to extend their support.
Ralph Kramer was one of this year's riders. A retired Air Force master sergeant living in Boise, he emphasized the importance of these veteran-related efforts.
"It's great to be able to give something back to our military community," he said.
In addition, Kramer was amazed at the amount of public support the riders received as they traveled down the interstate. People had gathered at every overpass between Meridian and Mountain Home to wave at the passing motorcycles.
"It warms my heart to see so many Idahoans coming out to support our military," said Wes "Topper" Garvin, state director with the newly formed Veterans of Foreign Wars Riders Group. "It can't say enough for these people. It's truly from their hearts. This is proof of how much we care about our military."
Last year alone, the Patriot Thunder effort provided $9,500 for Operation Warmheart, according to Chris Franklin, first sergeant with the 366th Medical Group. He represents one of many people that oversee the base charity.
"It's huge. With the money raised, we're able to help airmen and others in the community when the need arises," Franklin said regarding the donation it receives from efforts like Patriot Thunder. "We couldn't do it without the donations from the community and events like this."
Those stationed at the base and other military families have dealt with a myriad of "heart wrenching" events over the past year, added Chief Master Sgt. Geoff Weimer, command chief for the 366th Fighter Wing at the base. Operation Warmheart helped these individuals deal with these unexpected tragedies and emergencies.
Among those who received this emergency funding included a military family traveling from Washington to Michigan after their loved one deployed overseas. When their car broke down near Mountain Home, Operation Warmheart helped cover the repair bill to send them on their way.
Last week, the base charity also helped a family flying to Mountain Home to visit a military family at the base here. However, what started out as a simple trip changed drastically when their private aircraft crashed near Silver City in Owyhee County.
Extending his appreciation to those who made this year's trek, Godrey also applauded the efforts of the Mountain Home community. Each year, the community goes out of its way to welcome these riders, he said.
For example, the large American flag on display over North 10th East Street "took my breath away," Godfrey said.
Meanwhile, Mayor Tom Rist applauded the efforts of the many individuals that made this event possible.
"It's not easy putting together an event of this magnitude," the mayor said. "It keeps betting bigger and better every year, and we're looking forward to hosting it again next year."
While motorcycles or choppers remained the standard bike of choice for most riders, a few stood out from the crowd. Among them, was the "bike" driven by Taylor Donaghe.
The nine-year-old's tiny, pink scooter garnered a fair share of looks as the surrounding motorcycles towered next to it. Donaghe, who just received it the day prior, was hoping to ride it to Carl Miller Park that morning but ran into a few technical problems.
"It needs new batteries," she said. "I used my feet to push it here."