Larry D. Croom
Members of a Vietnam veterans motorcycle club with ties to The Villages recently presented one of the three scholarships they give per year to graduates of Lake Tech’s Institute of Public Safety.
The Nam Knights Green Swamp Chapter, led by Leesburg’s Tony “Ruff” Rufrano, made the donation earlier this week and it was posted on the Lake County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page. Rufrano said the group also plans to donate $5,000 to the law enforcement teams that participated in the group’s Great American Swamp Rat Bed Race earlier this year and another $5,000 to veterans organizations in Lake County.
Rufrano and the Nam Knights played a role in a special event in The Villages in June when Villagers for Veterans presented disabled 17-year Army veteran Sgt. Pam Kelly with her new smart home on the Historic Side of the community. Kelly’s spine was crushed in 2002 when a cable snapped during a sling load operation while she was training for deployment to Iraq, leaving her permanently paralyzed with very limited use of one arm.
Prior to receiving her new home, Kelly spent the night at the Comfort Suites just outside Spanish Springs Town Square and when it was time to see her completed new home for the first time, Rufrano and other members of the Nam Knights rolled into Florida’s Friendliest Hometown, along with the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association, to provide her with an escort to her Teakwood Lane residence.
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“My heart is pounding a mile a minute,” Kelly said, as the roar of motorcycles could be heard in the parking lot.
Members of both motorcycle clubs also spent time socializing with Kelly and posing for photos. It was an event that Rufrano said he and his fellow veteran motorcyclists were proud to be a part of.