Patriot Tour grows donates $31,000 to veterans and their families
A locally born movement organized by motorcycle enthusiasts has really opened up the throttle to help veterans and their families. The third annual Patriot Tour raised $31,000 to benefit veterans and their families. The tour recently distributed its donations to vets' families.
The Patriot Tour carries an American flag 14,000 miles across the U.S. in honor of the country's service men and women. The tour brings the message of "we will never forget" our military. It also encourages support for service members and their families by seeking donations along the tour.
From humble beginnings, the tour's effect is growing.
A few years ago, Bill Sherer and some friends came up with the idea to carry an American flag around the country to honor all service men and women. Sherer alone carried the flag the first year of the tour, but didn't complete the entire tour of the continental states.
However, Sherer came away from his inaugural effort even more inspired to continue the tour the next year. His patriotism and inspiration grew stronger with others around the country who helped make the second Patriot Tour an even greater success. The flag was carried through all 48 continental states, and several thousand dollars was raised to benefit soldiers and their families.
This year the tour raised $31,000 for military families in 19 states. Last month Sherer, handed $2,000 each to seven families selected through the Milwaukee VA.
"We want to show you that your time in service was not spent alone. While you're away, most of us went about our business, but some of us did not. We held you in our prayers and took action to unite in your honor and to let you know that you're not alone," said Sherer. He said more than 80,000 people participated in the summerlong Patriot Tour.
The tour begins with a special ceremony on Memorial Day at Wisconsin Harley-Davidson in Oconomowoc and then sets off carrying the flag to its first stop; this year's was in Chicago at the Woodstock Harley-Davidson.
From there the flag is proudly flown on the back of a motorcycle among a roaring parade of patriots that has not gone unnoticed as evidence of photos, blog posts and videos Sherer and his group of patriots have shared on nationofpatriots.org.
The flag returns on Labor Day to its starting point to be retired after such an eventful journey. Sherer gathered the group of veterans and their families in December at the Wisconsin Harley-Davidson. It was a small, modest gathering of those benefiting from the tour who watched a video that helped bring the tour to life. For Sherer it was a way to show that small group of service members and their families just how proud and grateful his nation of patriots is.
"More than 300 gathered at a time to make sure this flag stayed on course, on time and in your honor," said Sherer. "This donation carries a simple message: Thank you."
Organizing a 14,000-mile tour that involves tens of thousands of people meeting throughout the country to exchange a flag sounds like a logistical nightmare, said Sherer. "But it works every time," he said.
And from helping three families after the first tour to helping 23 families in 2012, the founder of the Patriot Tour said the momentum continues to build. "I'm getting emails constantly, and we will continue this regardless of the conflict. The flag will continue to fly as long as I'm still living," Sherer said.
As Sherer personally thanked each family and handed them a little help, one woman gave him an extra long, emotional embrace. The wife of a veteran who received a donation, (the Milwaukee VA does not allow the use of names of families who were recipients), later said she was touched by Sherer's perseverance to continue the tour.
"Our country seems so fractured. Something like this brings the community back together. He's bringing people together around a common thing," she said.
Her husband, who recently retired from the military, agreed. "To start so small and have the fortitude to keep pushing means a lot," he said.
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