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Former Air Force veteran receives huge gift from Patriot Riders

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Posted at 4:53 PM, Jul 08, 2023

FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) — Saturday at Herr-Baker Field in Fond du Lac the American Patriot softball team, made up of wounded warriors, faced a team of the Fond du Lac Fire and Police Departments. For one veteran this day meant so much more.

Rob Vande Zande is a former Air Force Veteran. After losing his son, who was also a member of the military, a decade ago, Vande Zande has undergone his fair share of hardship.

"Seven years ago, almost eight years ago I had my leg amputated and then in January I lost my wife", said Vande Zande.

He never let it break his spirit.

"As I teach my grandkids as they get older, you can do anything you want", Vande Zande said. "Life might get you down but you keep going."

A lifelong motorcycle rider, he had to give up his bike when he lost his leg. Today, his unbreakable will was rewarded by his son, Austin, and the Fond du Lac Patriot Riders.

"Today we're going to be gifting him a motorcycle that's outfitted for him so he can ride without his leg and get back on the road, especially through this hard time," said Austin. "In my mind, there might be a bias there, but I don't think there's someone who deserves it more right now."

For Austin this means the world.

"I've been riding six years now," Austin said. "I haven't had a chance to ride with the person that is the reason why I ride."

Patriot Riders President, Kevin Kutz, was instrumental in making it all happen for Rob.

"Today isn't about me, it's about him," Kutz said. "It's not about the organization, it's all about that man right there."

After being presented with the bike before the softball game, Vande Zande could not wait for his first ride.

"I'm gonna have a big smile on my face, feel the wind through my hair, or what I have left," Vande Zande laughed. "I've been waiting for a long time."