One Bike at a Time. One Hero at a Time.
And it's Time...

To Return One More to The Road.
Introducing Our Next Veteran Recipient:
Marine Veteran, Sergeant Rick Erickson
of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Helping Smooth Out that Rough Road

The son of a Vietnam Marine, and grandson of a WWII Navy Veteran, Rick grew up with military pride, a love for his Country and a desire to fulfill his sense of American duty. Believing the Marines to be the toughest, hardest and best, joining the Corps was the only option he allowed himself to pursue.

Born in Madison, he spent his early life in the DeForest area. Later, his father worked for Saudi Aramco Oil Company, requiring their family move to Saudi Arabia for several years. Rick learned to ride dirt bikes in the desert for days on end, and played football and baseball while attending boarding schools back in the States. Having just completed senior year and evaluating his future, Rick was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Despite an immediate surgery, the cancer had spread and required chemotherapy. An almost equally heavy blow to the life he planned, the Marines would no longer take him until he was cancer-free for five years. Crushed yet determined, he waited out those five long years and improved his health, worked a landscape job and hung with friends. The devastation and anger of 9/11 only strengthened his resolve; and, when cleared of cancer in 2003, he enlisted at age 25 to do his part in service to our Country. One year later he was headed to war in Iraq for a six month experience that would forever change who he was and how he would live.

While Rick wanted the fight that Infantry would assure him, his high ratings set him on a different path: Artillery Scout and Gunfire Controller. After learning his expertise was a critical combat need, he voluntarily transferred Units and Bases to fill the deployment’s position and left for Fallujah in June 2004, the deadliest area at the time. Upon arriving he was attached to a sniper team to spot and direct targets. It was also his job to call in artillery, mortar and air strikes; and he immediately went to work securing his base and removing threats. He quickly established himself within his new team as reliable, precise and efficient, and readily assumed additional roles and responsibilities to meet the demands of sustained combat. He kept his focus on the safety of his Brothers, and not on the growing personal turmoil his efforts were causing.

In November-December of 2004, after four months of daily life in the already intense war zone, the U.S. initiated “Operation Phantom Fury”. It was the highest point of conflict against the Iraqi insurgents as Marines invaded Fallujah. It created the heaviest urban combat and the bloodiest battle of the entire war...and Rick was in the center of it all. The fighting was fierce and continual as troops cleared the city and endured house to house sweeps and fighting. Explosions, missiles and gunfire were constant. Hostile insurgents and unknown threats were at every turn, as were civilians, and Rick couldn’t afford to let himself think of the fear, pain and loss surrounding him. He lived in primitive conditions of sand and rubble, and worked both rough terrain and tight neighborhoods removing the enemy, with little regard for his own safety. He saw more Brothers than he can count injured, and killed; and, he carried on to prevent the loss of more, each one eating at him a little bit more. As if keeping his mind focused weren't hard enough, he gutted through the physical pain that invasive maneuvers, blasts and tactical demands permanently imparted on his entire body. His brain reeled and absorbed the traumatic effects of blasts and gunfire almost daily. Through it all he continued giving his best to those who depended on him. For his efforts in combat Rick was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Valor and a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Valor. And after the one month, two weeks and two days that the Battle For Fallujah raged, with it’s end came Rick’s departure home... and the start of his life-long battle with PTSD and his wounds from war.

Nothing had prepared him to return stateside. The war zone activity of just yesterday felt surreal on base; and, with no transitional support, few around him understood, or addressed, the magnitude of what he’d just been through. He struggled adjusting, internalized his conflict and silenced the blame and guilt they cultivated. Instead, he focused on training, treating his many physical injuries and building his family. While children added great pride and joy to his physical presence on the home front, his mind remained back in the desert's war zone. He turned to alcohol to numb the pain and anger; and rather than risk the stigma of mental health support on base, he further ignored the demons knocking at his door. He finished his four years under contract and moved back to Wisconsin, proud he’d done his part to serve his Country.

Once home, and with the support of family, Rick resumed care for his physical needs and underwent surgeries and treatments for shoulder repairs, knee and ankle injuries and degenerative joint and disc damage to his back. Headaches and irritability from his multiple TBI’s complicated his days, but he pressed on for his family. He also continued drinking: and his emotions spiraled and relationships strained. He struggled holding a steady job and his marriage deteriorated to the point of divorce; and then he spent years fighting to win the primary placement of his daughters. He moved in with his parents to begin putting his life in order and realized his excessive drinking and depression were taking a heavy, critical toll. With his mom’s support, he finally sought treatment for his PTSD and began taking his life back. He obtained two Associate degrees and, after various jobs, landed a “dream job” advocating for Veterans as an Assistant County Veterans Service Officer. Working to facilitate Veteran’s claims in Sauk County, his role has added immense pride and purpose to his life. He saved enough to buy his first home three years ago in the Wisconsin Dells and provides a plentiful, stable life for his two teenage daughters who are his absolute world. And still, something was missing from the life he dedicates to others: a piece of him.

Rick is modest and reserved when he speaks of his service. It is not the spotlight he seeks nor wants, and not one part of sharing his story is easy. His road is unmistakably rough, and he is raw, irritable and intense. He carries a beastly weight of responsibility for multiple deaths, both directly and indirectly, and the anguish of survivor’s guilt still painfully burns fourteen years later. Not a day goes by where his mind doesn’t pull him back to those dark six months and his body doesn't betray his efforts to move forward. Sleep does not come easily or peacefully; and his struggles make it hard for him to make friends, have relationships, and enjoy life like he used to. Every day he agonizes over ways to find his place and his release...a problem made worse two years ago when he sold his motorcycle to pay for a necessary bathroom remodel.

One of the first things Rick did when returning from service fourteen years ago was buy himself a motorcycle. He rode as much as his parenting responsibilities would let him... and it helped. It was his escape: travels gave him the personal time and adrenaline he needed to sort through his mind. It gave him freedom from his demons and the chance for peace. And it gave him joy and time with his girls, one at a time on the back, taking the long way for ice cream. His two teen daughters are everything to him, and readily admits he wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them. He fills his life with theirs and the satisfaction he finds in working with Veterans. Hogs For Heroes felt this Veteran needed to find and fill time for himself, gain Brotherhood, and continue the hard work of healing with the gift of a motorcycle to help.

With his coworkers in on the surprise, we scheduled an appointment on Rick’s busy calendar and watched this stoic man release a bewildered smile or two. We took him shopping the very next day and found the Street Glide he dreamed of, in the color he hoped for, on the showroom floor of Wisconsin Harley-Davidson in Oconomowoc. This Crushed Ice Pearl 2017 Street Glide has only 9,000 miles on her and is not only loaded with upgrades, it has a customized adaptive seat to give his back the support it needs and 12” bars to release his shoulders. The WISHD team were phenomenal: they expertly placed Rick on his first Harley and generously stretched our dollars to fit this dream within our budget. Unique to this sweet ride, it has been fully paid for by the 2020 fundraising efforts of the Tavern League of Wisconsin (TLW), and we couldn’t be more honored by their support of our Veterans and desire to continue raising funds for Hogs For Heroes.

Join us on Sunday, May 23 from 12-3 pm when we support this Veteran, our 18th, by handing him his set of keys at The Keg & Patio in the Wisconsin Dells. Come learn about our unique mission, meet prior recipients and welcome Rick back to The Road. We will begin our Presentation of Keys Ceremony at 1:00 pm, and trust us--it’s an emotional, patriotic moment you don’t want to miss. The Keg will be offering a lunch for donation to us, live music on their cool patio, and... THEY WILL HAVE THE HOGS FOR HEROES GOLDEN ALE, a craft beer created in partnership with Wisconsin’s Capital Brewery and Tavern League to support our Wisconsin Veterans. Pick up a 6 pack to go! Ride on over and hang with friends, old and new, as we support this deserving Veteran and honor the gratitude we have for all.

Please note, there will be designated motorcycle parking in front of the restaurant. We suggest that you enter the downtown Dells area via Hwy 13 or Hwy 23. 
to the Tavern League of Wisconsin for the mighty fundraising
force to change a struggling Veteran's life, during one of the
hardest years weathered by their industry.

What started as an introductory conversation with Keith Koehler, owner of the Keg & Patio in the Wisconsin Dells, grew into friendship and a phenomenal cheerleading campaign as Keith worked within his Third District, and the State, to generate support and funds to sponsor a Harley in 2021. Capital Brewery jumped in to create a beer to help the effort by directing a portion of proceeds to us, and the State's TLW Foundation added matching funds. Add in some very cool T-Shirt sales...and all came together to reach that $22,000 goal.

We are now handing over the keys to the Harley that the TLW sponsored and would like to thank the following groups
for rallying behind our mission to heal:

Capital Brewery
Dells Delton Tavern League
Grant-Iowa County Tavern League
Keg & Patio, Wisconsin Dells
LaCrosse Tavern League
Monroe County Tavern League
Pony Express, Kendall
Ravina Bay, Wisconsin Dells
Sauk County Tavern League
Sports Impressions, Wisconsin Dells
Wisconsin Tavern League Foundation

and the entire 3rd District TLW (which includes the following
WI Counties: Crawford, Dells/Delton, Grant/Iowa, Juneau,
LaCrosse, Monroe and Sauk)

We are honored by your belief in us,
and grateful for your support of our Wisconsin Veterans.

We look forward to doing more together!

Back by popular demand!

Capital Brewery and the Tavern League of Wisconsin are teaming up to make THIS happen AGAIN!
A limited release craft beer, this Golden Ale was collaboratively created with deep gratitude for our Veterans and a desire to support those who have served. A portion of the beer's profits will be donated to Hogs For Heroes!

START ASKING your favorite places to bring it in on tap or in cans! #drinkbeerforacause


Our Recipients surprised us again. First decals, now this.

To express their gratitude to all who made their bike possible, our Recipients secretly made the decision to have license plates that reflect their gifting number. We at Hogs For Heroes (H4H) are greatly humbled by this homage as we would never ask anyone to tag their bikes in any way. That's how much your gift means to them.
RINO RUN 6/5/21:
In memory of avid rider Steve "Rino" Rinabarger (1956-2020), this first annual Poker Run has made us their beneficiary!

Registration 10-12 at The Schelter Bar in Leland. Meander roads to 7 stops in Sauk, Columbia and Dane Counties to end up at The Red Mouse in Pine Bluff for more fun, raffles and a picnic dinner! Catch the FB event details here!
In honor of the Fallen, their ride supports our Injured Veterans.

Registration 9-1030 at Sloppy Joes in Hubertus, WI for their 18th Annual Ride, with KSU at 11. Meander Lake Country and a few cool stops, ending at Smoke on the Water on Okauchee Lake, their newest restaurant. There you'll enjoy a Warbird Flyover, raffles, live music from a 10-piece band, and dinner! Enjoy your Sunday Funday while supporting others. Catch the FB Event details here.

They are doing this one just for us, folks!

Registration starts at 10 am, KSU at 11 out of The Bee Hive Barn & Grill in Neenah, WI with a $25 entry fee. Rain or shine, all vehicles are welcome for a day filled with cool stops, cash prize, raffles and LIVE MUSIC upon return to the Beehive. Sure to be a great day filled with brotherhood and fun! FB Event details here!

The 4th Annual Operating Engineers Poker Run benefitting Hogs For Heroes will start and end at the impressive IUOE Training Center in Coloma, WI.

Trust us-- this is one well-done ride that meanders beautiful central Wisconsin roads. And they share ALL their proceeds with us! Ride with us--all are welcome! Get the FB details here!

The Post's Veterans and friends are working to make this one heck of a ride around Wisco's beautiful rural roads, and help return one more Veteran back to the road. In and out of Post 6003 in Oxford, WI, returning for LIVE MUSIC by The Back Alley Kings from 5-9 on their outdoor stage. This is one awesome Post and set-up to hang out with! We'll share more details as they roll out.

Traverse the lake area on two wheels, four wheels or your own pace and at the stops you choose! Even cooler-- they share their full proceeds with us!

The Anchor in Edgerton, WI puts this baby on for all to get to know the awesome spots around Lake Koshkonong! Ink this one in--it's a hoot! All the juicy details to spill out soon.
8/20 & 8/21

The 2nd annual weekend long music event is back even bigger and better with the US Military Vets MC and Salute The Troops rallying behind the effort to support our Veterans. Hogs For Heroes is lucky enough to be one of their beneficiaries...and take our word for it, this is one heck of a time! The action takes place at The Nuthouse in Fond du Lac, WI and primitive camping is available. Plans, along with rock, country and metal bands are lining up now! Purchase a wrist band for unlimited beer, music and fun. Click here to catch the FB event details!
SUNDAY, 9/12

Their 4th Annual benefit ride includes us this year! The group has partnered with the Legion Post 375 to make this event even bigger than last years! Awesome POST stops, food trucks and music add to your Sunday Funday fun!

Then you should hear our "Breaking News" first!

We will open our second application period, and last of the year, on May 22, 2021, closing June 12, 2021. We offer a second, shorter opportunity for those who have only recently learned of our mision. Materials will be available on our website 6/22.

All new applications will be considered for each of the remaining Harleys we are able to gift in 2021's riding season, and be equally considered alongside those qualified applications received earlier this year.

And while we hoped we'd be successful enough to gift four bikes this year... we will be gifting a total of SIX bikes instead! That means we will select three more Veterans to receive the gift of wind therapy in 2021. Unbelievable!

Thank you, DONORS, for making these life-changing gifts possible. Remember, 100% of your gift to us goes straight, and fully, to the next Bike and Veteran pairing.

Always Remember...

Freedom Isn't Free.

HOGS FOR HEROES, INC.| 608-228-0026 ||