The Patriot Tour launches Saturday.
It is a 100-day, 14,000-mile journey during which motorcycle riders carry one American flag through the continental 48 states to raise money for wounded veterans and their families.
The event will begin at Harley-Davidson of Madison according to Bill Sherer, founder and executive director of the Nation of Patriots.
A large group of riders from Dodge County will join the Madison contingent for the first leg of the journey. This year’s fundraising goal is $200,000 and contributions of any size are welcome at nationofpatriots.com.
Anyone who cares to participate will gather at Hogz N Honeez Bar & Grill W7771 Highway 33, Beaver Dam, at 8:30 a.m. Saturday for the ride to Harley-Davidson of Madison. Following a 10 a.m. launch ceremony, the flag will make its way through southwest Wisconsin to its first stop in Waukon, Iowa.
It will then move city-to-city across the country raising awareness to the needs of veterans and their families. More than 150,000 riders across the U.S. are expected to take part in the Tour before its return Sept. 9 for a parade through downtown Beaver Dam and a closing ceremony and celebration at the Dodge County Fairgrounds.
In 2016, The Patriot Tour raised and distributed $170,000 to wounded veterans and their families in 21 states.
“It’s important for people to understand that every dollar they contribute to this effort directly benefits wounded vets and their families. The Nation of Patriots is an entirely volunteer organization so 100 percent of the money raised benefits those for whom it is intended,” Sherer said.
The idea for the Patriot Tour came to Sherer in 2009 while riding in the eastern United States, carrying the American flag on the back of his motorcycle in support of the sacrifices that his friends, mostly veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, had made on behalf of our country. He rode all 33 states east of the Mississippi, raising money for the families of wounded veterans.
Ending in Milwaukee, Sherer worked with the VA Hospital there to direct the money he had raised, to military families.
“I realized that my voice was not strong enough to rally a nation,” he said. “So I founded the Nation of Patriots. I wanted to include as many proud Americans as possible to stand with me in a collective salute of appreciation to the U.S. military.”
More than 150,000 riders across the U.S., many of them veterans, have answered the Nation of Patriots’ call each spring since 2010 and volunteered to take part in the annual Patriot Tour.
Riders interested in participating locally or across the country are encouraged to pre-register at nationofpatriots.com. Each rider is asked to make a $5 donation that will be used to augment funds raised throughout the tour for distribution to the families of wounded veterans.