The first Saturday of Spring brought out Warriors’ Watch Riders of Northern Illinois in force.  About 25 motorcyclists and a like number of cagers gathered in a Chili’s parking lot in a Northwest suburb of Chicago on a bright, crisp morning.  Among our riders was our hero’s mother, Cindy Gardanier. Cody’s bike, a bright yellow crotch rocket was also in the parking lot, ready to ride.

On hand for safety (and for fun) were Lake County (IL) Sheriffs, Lake Zurick (IL) Fire and PD and Kildeer (IL) PD. The thing about this first welcome home of the Spring that made it so special for me was the number of family members on hand.  Brothers, cousins, in-laws; all joined our ranks to make this one welcome home to remember.


 When SPC Gardanier pulled into the parking lot with his wife, Courtney, the cheering began.  As they exited their vehicle, they were wrapped in hugs and shouts of “Welcome home!”
 Once we stowed the flags and got everyone ready to go, we embarked on an 8-mile convoy to a celebration at  the American Legion Hall in Wauconda, IL.  Waiting at Wauconda’s border was the Wauconda PD,  who attempted to escort us past a Wauconda Fire truck flying a huge American flag from its ladder.  Though a  miss-communication between PD’s detoured us away from the flag, the gesture was definitely there. At any  rate, improvise is what we do best.

 At the American Legion we did our presentations, as did a couple other groups present, including the American Legion Riders, the group with which Cody’s mother rides.  Some pictures and some pizza and our mission was done.  Couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the riding season.

Respectfully submitted,