‘The Biker’ Joan Laabs races to raise awareness and fund repairs to the Tomahawk American Legion building

Written by Sarah Grill

Tomahawk – About 15 years ago, John and Joan Labs cycled 5,000 miles a year together.

However, last winter, John was diagnosed with dementia, then fell and fractured his hip. He is now in an assisted living facility and receiving physical therapy.

Even though John knew he would never ride a bike again, he wanted Joan to keep riding. For Joan’s 75th birthday, John bought an expensive tricycle for Joan so she could continue doing what they had been doing together for many years.

Joan volunteers one day each week at the American Legion camp near Lake Tomahawk. She is also a supporter of both the American Legion Post 93 and the VFW of Tomahawk. When she heard that the American Legion needed financial help to renovate the building, she wanted to do something to help.

Joan decided to use her love of cycling to help raise money for the American Legion. I set a goal of raising $2300.00 by the end of October. So far, it has raised $1,700.00 in pledges and traveled 1,700 miles in the past 17 weeks. That’s 100 miles a week, which Joanne says isn’t an easy task.

Joanne notes that many people wave to her when they see her riding. Some refer to it as “The Biker” or “The Trike Rider”. It hopes to raise another $800.00 before October 31.

The American Legion needs about $60,000 USD for much-needed renovations. $35,000.00 is needed for the roof alone, which members have been talking about fixing for nearly 20 years now.

Tom Garrigan, a member of the American Legion, says the roof must be done first before they can make any further renovations in and around the building.

Currently, the American Legion is finalizing a $60,000 loan to finance the projects. The problem is that the money the American Legion raises throughout the year is to help the community. They are seeking to find other donors to help them with the financial burden of the loan so that they can remain focused on helping the various groups in Tomahawk.

Garrigan says the last thing they want to do is withdraw money from children’s programs to pay off the loan.

Joan encourages people to donate money to American Legion projects. She hopes that riding her bike will raise awareness of the great need to help an organization that does so much for the Tomahawk community.

To help Joan support the American Legion, send a note with your donation that reads “Joan’s Bike Ride 2022.” Donations can be assigned to American Legion Post 93, C/O Maintenance Account, 327 W. Wisconsin Ave., Tomahawk, Wis., 54487.

Image provided by Joanne Labs.

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