Chamber aims to help bicyclist with goal

ALPENA – On June 16 Luke Wiltse embarked on a cross-country bike tour that began in Seattle, Wash., and will conclude in his hometown of Oscoda Wednesday. Wiltse decided to make the journey because of his love for biking, but even more than that he did so because he wanted to support soldiers who were injured while serving in the military.

Wiltse, who is a 17-year-old student at Tawas Area High School, has been collecting donations and selling T-shirts while making his trek, which will be donated to the Wounded Warriors project.

Wiltse is scheduled to make a stop in Alpena Tuesday and will take part in the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce military support reception at the Sanctuary Inn. He decided to create the fundraising effort to honor his uncle who was seriously wounded while at war.

Chamber Executive Director Jackie Krawczak said Wiltse will be introduced and his story told during the event. She said last word was he was a little short of his goal heading into the last leg of his ride and she hopes Alpena can come together to raise enough money to put him over what he needs to reach his goal.

Krawczak said there is another twist to the story. She said the unit that will be training at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center is the same one that conducted a fundraiser for him out west when he began his trip.

“It kind of came full circle and we really wanted to become involved and have him at the event and help him,” Krawczak said. “We want the community to come out and show him support. The cost of the banquet is $10 and each paid admission by a member of the public will be donated to Luke and the Wounded Warriors project.”

As important as the event is, Krawczak said it has not captured the attention of many people in the community. She said she hopes that will change this year.

“We have never really had a big public turnout for this and I hope that this year more members of the public will come out and support our military and help Luke reach his goal and support the base and the units who visit Alpena.”

For the $10 admission people will receive two drink tokens, as well as a buffet style dinner. More importantly it provides people a platform to welcome military personnel to Alpena and to thank them for their service. Krawczak said the chamber helps host a lot of events in Alpena.

“This event has been taking place for many years and began much longer than when I started and we have never had a single complaint,” Krawczak said. “Usually when someone attends for the fist time they usually come back. We would like to have someone from Alpena at each of the tables, so they can talk to the people and answer questions about Alpena and interact with them. We would love to the the public participate in this event more.”

People who want to attend should contact the chamber at 354-4181 to pre-register for the event.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at