CASTLETON — Hundreds of people were at the American Legion Post 50 on Saturday to take part in a fundraiser to benefit the family of Monty Springer, an Army veteran and motorcyclist, known for his support of veterans causes.
Springer died on Nov. 15 from injuries he suffered in a crash on Oct. 5 on Route 22A in Benson.
The benefit, which started at noon and continued through the evening, consisted of a basket raffle, a dinner and a dance with music performed by Springer’s second cousin, Adam Springer.
Ed Porter, a fellow veteran and member of the U.S. Veterans Motorcycle Club, said he wasn’t surprised to see so many people at the Legion Post on Saturday because of Springer’s character.
“He was just a great guy. It’s hard to describe it. He was just well-liked by everybody. Never heard about anybody that really disliked him. He was always there. You ask him to be there, he was there. He walked into a room and the respect that people gave him was overwhelming,” Porter said.
Mary Lawrence, Springer’s mother, said it was an honor to see so many people at the Legion. She said she wasn’t surprised because her son had been involved in so many causes.
His cousin, Dixie Sheloski, who called the fundraiser “even bigger than we expected,” agreed with Lawrence.
“Monty had a huge, huge heart. He did a lot of good for a lot of people and this is their way of paying him back,” she said.
Sheloski also said he had a “huge sense of humor.”
Springer was a 1977 graduate of Mill River High School who grew up in Shrewsbury. Springer trained to be an electrician at Stafford Technical Center in Rutland.
At the Legion Post on Saturday, it was easy to see two of the biggest influences in his life: He served in the U.S. Army, 101st Airborne, for more than 11 years; he was president of the Green Mountain State Chapter of A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments, or ABATE, a motorcycle rights organization; he was a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, whose members will attend the funerals of veterans and first-responders if invited by the family; and he was also a member of the U.S. Veterans Motorcycle Club, or USVMC.
Many of those at the post were wearing their USVMC jackets.
Lawrence and Sheloski said Springer’s love of motorcycles was a way for him to contribute to the community by participating in numerous fundraising rides to benefit causes like toy drives or winter fuel assistance.
Lawrence said she had learned about some of her son’s charitable efforts at his memorial, also at the American Legion Post in Castleton, and on Saturday.
“It’s not surprising but we didn’t know everything that he was doing. He wasn’t one to brag about it. He never talked about it. He never talked about what he was doing or what he was into,” she said.
“He just did it,” Sheloski added. “He just did it.”
Lawrence said he had gone to Washington, D.C., and Montpelier to support veterans rights.
Julie Chadwick, one of the organizers of the event and a friend of Springer’s, said about 240 baskets had sold and 225 dinner tickets were sold.
Jean Carrara, who rode with her husband along with Springer in one of his motorcycle clubs, the Southwest Freedom Riders, said a 50/50 had raised almost $400 and $180 was donated back to Springer’s family.
“He loved motorcycles. He rode all the time, rain or shine. (My husband and I) are fair weather riders. Monty didn’t care,” she said.
The money raised on Saturday will benefit his son, Eli Springer, of Benson, and his partner of almost 20 years, Heather Luther.
Sheloski said she thought her cousin would have been “so proud” of the event on Saturday.
Lawrence said he would be humbled especially because she said she recalled him working on a similar memorial and wondering if he would be remembered when he passed.
“He would have been surprised by the turnout and all the people who were so supportive,” she said.