The Patriot Tour will start from the 200 block of Front Street in downtown Beaver Dam on Saturday.
The ninth annual event is a 110-day, 14,500-mile journey during which motorcycle riders carry the United States flag city to city through all 48 continental states. The purpose is to raise money for disabled veterans and their families.
An opening ceremony begins in Beaver Dam at 10 a.m. with Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel as one of several speakers. Kickstands go up at 11 a.m. for the first leg of the flag’s journey, southwest 115 miles to Fennimore. Throughout the 110-day journey, more than 150,000 riders nationwide, including many from all parts of Wisconsin, are expected to participate.
U.S. Army Reserve veteran Jonathon “Shoey” Schumacher has been selected as the lead flag bearer for the 2018 Patriot Tour, officials announced Monday. Schumacher, a native of Montfort in southwestern Wisconsin, served in the Army Reserve for 9½ years as a combat engineer and was deployed to Afghanistan twice — to Bagram Airfield (2004-2005) and then to Kandahar Airfield (2010-2011). He will carry the flag on his motorcycle to Fennimore, just 12 miles past his hometown.
“The Nation of Patriots (NoP) has amazing people doing an incredible job at making veterans’ dreams reality,” Schumacher said. “If you have a passion for helping our country’s veterans, the Nation of Patriots will bring a tear to your eye and have your heart pound with patriotism.”
As many as 500 riders are expected to take part in the ride to Fennimore, according to Bill Sherer, founder and executive director of the Nation of Patriots.
The route will follow Highway 151 south from Beaver Dam to Highway V, bypassing East Bristol, DeForest and Norway Grove, then turning onto Highway P south bypassing Springfield Corners, Cross Plains, Pine Bluff and Klevenville, turning on Highway 151 west to Highway 18 bypassing Mount Horeb and Dodgeville. The tour continues on Highway 18 west through Edmund, Cobb and Montfort, reaching Fennimore about 1:30 p.m.
A flag exchange ceremony begins at 2 p.m. at the Fennimore Fire Station, 1070 8th St., followed by music featuring Adam Bartel & Friends and an EMT brat sale and firefighters beverage stand until 6 p.m.
The tour departs Fennimore on May 20 at 11 a.m. for its next stop in Waukon, Iowa. Riders are welcome to join the tour at any point along the way and ride for as long as they would like, Sherer said.
“It’s important for people to understand that every dollar they contribute to this effort is put directly into the hands of disabled vets and their families,” Sherer said. “The Nation of Patriots is an entirely volunteer-run organization, so 100 percent of the money raised benefits those for whom it is intended.”
In 2017, just shy of $250,000 was raised with funds distributed to 67 families of disabled veterans across 18 states, he said. This year’s goal is $300,000 and contributions of any size are welcome at nationofpatriots.org/donate.
“The Patriot Tour is a unified tribute to each and every one of our nation’s veterans, military personnel and their families,” Sherer said. “We understand their sacrifices and stand in awe of the contributions they have made and do make every day so that all Americans may enjoy the many freedoms for which this great country stands.”
On Sept. 8, the flag returns to Beaver Dam, book-ending the tour’s journey. The return celebration will be held at Swan City Park.
A complete routing schedule for the flag can be found at nationofpatriots.com/tour.