Hogs For Heroes came to life in late 2014 with a small family vision and our nonprofit designation. We raised our first dollar in the spring of 2015 and hoped to reach our goal of giving one Harley a year. Right on plan, we gifted our first bike in May of 2016…and with the close of our 2021 riding season, this small family nonprofit put a total of 22 injured Wisconsin Veteran riders back on the road with beautiful Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Riding is an alternative therapy and our gifts are the tools by which one gains it’s healing benefits. These pandemic times have been tough on everyone and despite this, you, our amazing Supporters, have generously shared to provide these life-changing gifts to struggling Veterans. In 2021 alone, you returned SIX injured Veteran riders back to the road! That’s six more lives fractured in service that will regain peace, freedom and control from riding. That’s six more families who will benefit from their loved one’s healing gains. And that’s six more Veterans that will reconnect with the supportive brotherhood found in riding…all because a motorcycle re-entered their lives.
WE GIFT MORE THAN JUST A MOTORCYCLE
We work year round to raise funds for bikes and are currently fundraising for our 2022 Giftings. FOLLOW US & SHARE US on Facebook—this is how we communicate most news! The more others know what we’re doing, the faster we can make our vision a healing reality for another injured WI Veteran rider.
BREAKING NEWS: #25 GETS HIS RIDE UPGRADED! Marine Sergeant Patrick Dunn, of Madison, WI, enlisted in August, 2001 and was a Phase ! Recruit when 9/11 forever changed our world, and his life. In 2003 he was deployed to Iraq for his first of three deployments in three consecutive years. And while the invisible reach of PTSD took root with the first, it was his third deployment that that earned him two Purple Hearts, two amputated toes, and a lifelong battle with post traumatic stress and Survivors Guilt. For almost 10 years Patrick struggled to find his new normal, and after turning to drugs and alcohol, realized his life needed a serious directional change. He returned to his mother’s home in Wisconsin, began seeking mental health care and pursued college degrees. His combined efforts certainly placed him on a successful path, but it was his ability to learn to ride and buy a 750cc starter bike that helped him find a deeper, personal healing and freedom. Hogs For Heroes felt this man needed a ride better suited to his larger frame, and one that would really introduce him to what riding can be. Learn more about Patrick’s story here.
Patrick’s bike was sponsored in full by the fundraising efforts of last year’s Sloppy Joes Ride & Smoke on The Water’s Hogs For Heroes Festival. Yes, we had our first festival! The generous hearts of all participating that day raised enough in one day to have bragging rights for this bike, and we’re going to roll it out during their 2022 event for us on Sunday, June 5, 2022. Catch all the event details by clicking here.
APPLICATION PERIOD NOW OPEN FOR LAST TWO HARLEYS! We selected our first six of eight from out first wave, and will be looking to put two more Veterans back on the road with this opening. We are accepting applicants NOW for the LAST TWO Harleys to be gifted July-September 2022! The application period opened May 1 and applications must be postmarked by May 21, 2022. Application materials and more information can be found by clicking on the “Application and Selection” in the top menu of this website. Please SPREAD the word! Download a flyer for sharing and posting by clicking here.
MEET OUR FIRST TWO RECIPIENTS OF 2022— WE PUT TWO OUT AT ONCE
We are thrilled to start our season by rolling out “2 UP” biker style. We are gifting a record number of Harleys this year, and that requires us to do things a little differently during our jam-packed and fun filled gifting season.
#23: Matthew Wagner of Belleville, WI, joined the Marine Corps in 1999 on a four-year contract to pave the way for a college education and future career. Attached to the 26th MEU as a Landing Support Specialist, life was good and full of adventure. Another deployment to the Mediterranean nearing, the events of 9/11 played out and changed his destiny. Because they were special-operations capable and already packed, he instead stepped on the shores of Pakistan and prepared an airfield for war. Returning three months later, he knew he was a different man and knew he couldn’t do another combat deployment. He changed jobs to secure stateside placement and, with nine months left on his contract, his entire Battalion was called up and deployed to Kuwait. There he was made a Convoy Driver and maneuvered the treacherous route from Kuwait to Iraq and back, every single day for six months straight. The experiences of his OEF and OIF deployments compounded themselves quickly and deeply and allowed PTSD, and its destructive hold, to grow for ten years before seeking support. Through much of this time Matt rode to find freedom from the burdens he carried. He finally sought therapy, and continues doing so, to provide him with the release and coping skills to move forward. And as he has succeeded in both his family life and professional career in law enforcement, the sale of his bike in 2014 to pay off bills has left a hole in his heart. Making his family his priority, Matt felt a bike purchase was selfish. Hogs For Heroes felt differently and thought his continued efforts would be better enhanced by regaining wind therapy in his life. Learn more about Matt’s story here.
#24: Marine Veteran Gerald Sieren of Beloit, WI was thrilled to join the Marine Corps; and, while in trainings, he developed stress fractures to both shins and pushed through the pain to succeed. Later stationed in Hawaii as a Combat Engineer, the fractures flared and affected his knees. Placed on light duty to heal, he excelled at supporting base operations and earned a Meritorious Mast. However, when a new XO came on, Jerry took the brunt of his his anger and for most of the next year would be called into his private office to be verbally abused, degraded and physically assaulted. After his XO’s baton to Jerry’s hand broke two bones, the investigative aftermath deemed Jerry the expendable one and we was honorably discharged with a physical disability. After just two years, Jerry was devastated and humiliated; his self worth hit rock bottom and he deemed himself a failure. It set a course for a rollercoaster life that was filled with regrettable decisions, over 30 jobs, homelessness and suicidal ideation. In 2015 Jerry landed the job he believes to be his life calling and worked as a Veterans Outreach Coordinator for six years and now works as an Assistant CVSO. It wasn’t until that point that he finally felt the success in being a Marine and serving his fellow Brothers and Sisters. Throughout all this he had his horses for therapy: iron and four-legged, and for as much as he suffered, he made sure they did not. He rode both every chance he could for their comfort and freedom. In 2019 he sold his bike to buy a home for his new family and greatly underestimated the internal struggle this would pose. Hogs For Heroes felt that Jerry has had enough struggle in his life and chose to support his daily, ongoing fight with PTSD by putting him back on The Road. Read Jerry’s story of service and struggle here.
CATCH OUR LATEST NEWSLETTER! Find out the latest happenings and updates in our most recent Hogs for Heroes newsletter. Read it here!
MEET #22, OUR LAST OF 2021…….Aaron Kream of Sheboygan, WI joined the Army in 2012 to escape his current life and build a challenging new one. He quickly found himself enamored with military life and set himself on a career path. He re-enlisted three times before deploying to Afghanistan in 2018 and while there, in the midst of violence, fear and death, he re-enlisted a fourth time. At the time he signed, he had no idea what those 8 months in war would do to him, nor could he imagine how fundamentally changed he would be as a direct result. He returned stateside in 2019 and unknowingly brought home PTSD, major depression and a Traumatic Brain Injury; and as he settled into another new base, those ramifications from war slowly began to tear apart Aaron’s mind, heart and soul. After intensive therapies, medications and counseling, he was medically retired in April 2021. Aaron grew up on dirt bikes and bought his first motorcycle at age 18…and made sure he had a bike on every base since for the escape and clarity it provided him. In preparing for discharge, Aaron sold his Street Glide to save for his family’s uncertain future and has been without his lifeline for almost two years. Hogs For Heroes thought regaining his passion would help smooth out the rough road still ahead of him. Learn more about Aaron’s courageous struggle with life.
#21…GETS HER BIKE IN 2021: Staff Sergeant and Stryker Commander Ashley Ferg was with the Army National Guard for 16 years as a Chemical Operations and Chemical Reconnaissance Specialist, and during that time deployed twice to combat zones— first in Afghanistan, then in Iraq. As there wasn’t a need for her MOS, she was assigned to fill in vacated positions with the units she was attached to and found herself working in roles she was less than prepared for. She saw things that can’t be unseen, she felt things that can’t be forgotten, and she did things, in war, that can’t be undone. Those “things” all came together quickly to deeply settle within and create PTSD that left her struggling with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts for the next 15 years of her life. One of the best things she did for herself as she began fighting back and taking control of her life was to take a riders class and buy her first bike in 2018. Unfortunately the old bike was in disrepair and needed more work than imagined, and it has compromised her time on the road. Hogs For Heroes thought Ashley’s healing path was best supported by keeping riding in her life, and it thrilled us to be able to place our second female Veteran on the road. Learn more about Ashley’s candid story here.
Fox News and their Fox & Friends First morning program flew a crew out, with Anchor Todd Piro, to interview our Hogs For Heroes family and recipients as we handed over our 18th set of keys to Marine Veteran Rick Erickson on May 23, 2021. National attention? Us? UNBELIEVABLE! Take a few minutes to watch this compassionate production on our mission’s efforts and impact by clicking here
LEARN ABOUT PAST RECIPIENTS! Miss the stories of our past Recipients? Catch them below by simply clicking on the Veteran’s name button.
SUPER COOL NEWS: Once again, our Recipients came up with a way to express their appreciation for the healing gifts you made possible in their lives. In addition to the decals they previously made, they recently chose to have license plates that designate their gifting number for those who want them. Watch for WI motorcycle plates on the road that read H4H 1-22 (i.e. H4H 6), with hopefully more numbers to come. And please note, Hogs For Heroes does not ask Recipients to tag their beautiful bikes (or themselves) in any way. They choose to do it.
THE “THIS JUST DOESN’T GET OLD” NEWS: In November 2019, our Founding Family was surprised by a party our Recipients, their spouses and our Board members threw to honor us. We still choke up over this. NBC15 Madison was on hand to capture the surprise moment and tell us our nonprofit had been selected for their regional “Making A Difference” Award! This beautiful piece was created and narrated by NBC News Anchor John Stofflet and his skilled team, and features our first recipient, Sun Prairie Marine Scott Kruchten. And the cherry on top… it won a coveted Edward J. Muir journalism award in 2020. Catch the video here.
Recipient Photo Gallery
Veteran 1: Kruchten
Veteran 2: Tinsley
Veteran 3: Kvitek
Veteran 4: Bentley
Veteran 5: Vandeyacht
Veteran 6: Russow
Veteran 7: Giese
Veteran 8: Thiede
Veteran 9: Sokel
Veteran 10: Cutler
Veteran 11: Provencher
Veteran 12: Swaney
Veteran 13: Buchanan
Veteran 14: Richter
Veteran 15: Endicott
Veteran 16: West
Veteran 17: Flynn
Veteran 18: Erickson
Veteran 19: Long
Veteran 20: Ronn
Veteran 21: Ferg
Veteran 22: Kream
Veteran 23: Wagner
Veteran 24: Sieren
Veteran 25: Dunn