What is Wheels for Our Wounded?

After interviewing a ton of veterans, many who ride, I realized that they were like me.

They suffer from PTSD and find that the focus and concentration it takes to ride a motorcycle/trike truly keeps them living in the present moment and helps abate PTSD symptoms. I know how much my motorcycle helps me with my PTSD and while I may be a civilian, I have also discovered that PTSD, is well, PTSD. It does not matter what trauma caused it, the results and chaos are very similar for all who suffer from it.

I  decided to start this initiative when I realized that veterans and first responders could get funding for service dogs, horse therapy and other types of emotional supports but that no one was validating or funding wind therapy.

Wheels bring freedom and independence into our lives, be they motorcycles, trikes or automobiles.
However, in attempting to get funding, sponsorship and support through traditional channels, I discovered that no one in the mainstream recognizes a motorcycle/trike as a therapy tool.

I was trying to decide what to do with my Defense Fund Poker run.  While I still need to raise about $5,000 to get the nuisance lawsuit from Sturgis North dealt with, I decided to take the day to do something positive for the greater community. I am tired of the political and bureaucratic BS of the BC legal system and I had made a promise to pay forward the help and support I had gotten last year, 10 fold.

One of the many people I spoke with and who helped me to flesh out the over all concept for the Wheels of Our Wounded initiative was Blake Emonns, founder of the Wounded Warriors Weekend Foundation. I sit on the advisory board for the motorcycle side of the weekend and as expected, Blake, a veteran who also rides said, "Hey kid, you are on to something here."

The Wounded Warriors Weekend Foundation promotes mental health and well being for our allied forces veterans and first responders. As such, they are the ideal foundation to partner with as they can help us select veteran's who need assistance.

In time, we will be rolling out a program that will support veterans and first responders from all of the Allied Forces countries.  The initiative will be rolled out sometime this fall on an international level.

The basics of the initiative will be that riding clubs, associations and veterans and first responder organizations from the Allied countries will be invited to host events in their communities and countries to support the needs of their "local" veterans and first responders.

We will provide them with our country branded merchandise, a best practices manual and advertising and marketing support. All profits from the sales of the nationalized merchandise will go towards helping a veteran or first responder of that country.

We have many details to hammer out like having a process whereby veterans and first responders in need can be nominated for help. A selection committee to help the Wounded Warriors Weekend Foundation and ours select which people we can assist each year and so on.
And a way for communities to have th funds they raise go to a specific veteran or first responder of their choosing.

We will be working on all of those details and more over the summer and fall.

In the meantime, our very first Wheels for Our Wounded function on May 30th in Nisku Alberta at Blackjacks Roadhouse.

I am thrilled to say that the event has taken on a life of its own!
We have the Royal Canadian Legion Riders headed up by Dana and Shelley Boyce, the Northern Gateway Motorcycle Association from Slave Lake and a whole host of volunteers supporting this event!

We have identified the first veteran that we are going to be helping! That veteran's name will be secret until the bike is presented in Chilliwack at the Wounded Warriors Weekend gala.

Mountain view Harley-Davidson had given us a KICK ass deal on a motorcycle, and Harley-Davidson of Edmonton has agreed to kit the veteran out with new riding gear.

Our event just happens to coincide with when Kate MacEachern's walk for PTSD awareness called "The Long Way Home"  will be in Edmonton and so I called Kate and asked her if she'd be our guest of honour and that told her that we'd donate 25% of everything we raise at our event to her walk!

Here is a video that explains who Kate is and what the walk she is undertaking represents:


After our volunteer meeting the other night we found out that the band we were hoping to get couldn't attend and so just for the heck of it I picked up the phone and called JP Cormier, singer and songwriter of the hit song "Hometown Battlefield" and the man who wrote the song "The Long Way Home" to commemorate Kate's Walk and guess what - HE SAID YES!

Here is the song, Hometown Battlefield:

Our poker run is going to be a blast!
We will begin at Blackjacks Roadhouse and we will be setting up stops at the Kipnes Veterans Centre where the UN Nato is having their show 'n' shine, so after getting their card, riders will be able to spend some time looking at great rides and talking to other riders!

Another stop will be at the Valour House where the Military Tribute truck will be for their annual bottle drive.  Again riders will have the opportunity to spend some time at Valour House.

Another stop will be at Edmonton Harley-Davidson. There will be a BBQ and potentially a sidewalk sale. Proceeds from the BBQ will be going to Kate's walk.

We will have vendors (we have some tents being provided by Blackjacks Roadhouse 2 - 20 x 20 and on 10 x 20), entertainment, silent auction and so much more!

Oh and on Sunday, we will have a Riders Breakfast at Blackjack's where will send Kate off on her trek to Calgary!

We'll have a poster and web site by Monday or Tuesday of next week and will get all the information to you as soon as we can! Oh Yeah - this is going to be a $2,500 Poker Run!  The winning hand will win a duffle bag filled with $2,500 in Gift Certificates and products but as I said, we will reveal all next week!

In the meantime I want to share with you our Logo and the meaning behind it.

The motorcycle engine represents the community that this initiative started in - the riding community and it is the heart if you will of this initiative.  The wheel represents the freedom and independence that transportation brings. The wings represent how our soldiers and first responders are the wind beneath our wings and how their actions, their bravery and courage make us all want to be better people.

That's what Wheels for Our Wounded is all about and I hope you will join us in helping a veteran or first responder gain the freedom and independence they need and deserve. You will be able to buy our gear on line shortly!

If you are blessed to be riding today, please remember to ride like everyone around you is blind and cannot see you!

Belt Drive Betty,
Editor & Rider

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