Hey again! I’m glad you’re back. This post was long anticipated and I’m super happy and proud to finally be making it. I am so thrilled to be able to say that we have officially picked a date to present the latest Hogs for Heroes bike recipient with his keys here at Primitive Gatherings. Mark your calendars and join us at The Gathering on Sunday, August 7th, 2022 at 11:00 AM to watch this exciting event unfold (doors open at 10:00 AM!). As most of you know we’ve been partnered with Hogs for Heroes for two summers in a row now, and have currently raised over $43,000 between private donations, our 2021 “American Quilter’s Stitch Along” fundraiser, and our most recent online auction. Truly amazing! If you’re not familiar with the Hogs for Heroes Organization, let me tell you why I love them so much. This wonderful and generous group of people helps give back to injured WI veterans by raising funds and using the proceeds to provide deserving recipients with a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Seriously, could this idea be any more right up my alley? If you would like to learn more about Hogs for Heroes or want to make a donation directly, visit the Hogs for Heroes website by following the link below!
Today is a special day because we finally get to announce the veteran chosen to receive a Hog funded %100 by Primitive Gatherings through Hogs for Heroes. I am so honored to be able to say that we had such a significant hand in awarding the 30th set of Hog keys donated to a WI veteran in the last six years! We can’t wait for this Army National Guard Veteran to regain his passion for the road, and the healing and the brotherhood that comes with it.
After careful thought and consideration, this time around the generous people at Hogs for Heroes have chosen Sergeant Nick Brewer of Oshkosh, WI as a 2022 Hogs for Heroes bike recipient. Originally from Madison, Nick wasn’t exactly a model student in his younger years. After a childhood of being bullied and fighting, Nick joined the Army National Guard in 2005 in an attempt to straighten his life out. After attending boot camp he discovered that the structure and discipline of the Army actually suited him. He quickly became enthralled with the idea of being deployed while he worked as a Petroleum Supply Specialist with the Guard, and applied four different times to deploy and support other units – only to be turned down each time. In 2009 he finally received full-time orders to serve stateside during the H1N1 outbreak. Soon after his unit was deployed to Iraq, and he was finally granted his chance to serve overseas.
Nick was quickly promoted to Sergeant and was given a tremendous amount of responsibility. Still working with fuel, he and his team worked in an extremely intense and highly flammable arena on a daily basis, that left little to no room for error. The combination of being in such a dangerous environment along with the inherent stress of being responsible for a staff of people under him, Nick became exhausted, mistrustful, and numb to the violence and danger he found himself in. As if the emotional trauma he was already experiencing wasn’t enough, to make matters worse Nick suffered a back injury during training that not only left him in excruciating pain, but also proved to be an injury that would plague him for years to come. He then returned home in 2011. Unable to reenlist due to his back injury, Nick officially separated from the National Guard in February of 2012.
Transition back into civilian life was harder than Nick could ever imagine. His experiences while serving his country left him bewildered and angry, and unable to trust people. He struggled to relate as depression took over, directly affecting his actions and perspective. Nick knew that bottling up his emotions was not healthy and that he needed some kind of release to help him cope. That’s when he decided to take a motorcycle riding course. In spite of the fact that he was using a 30-year-old bike that was too small for his large stature, he quickly discovered the healing power of “wind therapy” through his learning process. His passion for riding was officially born.
Though he was doing everything he knew how to heal and move forward with his life after his time in the service, Nick was still having trouble coping. He found that the one thing that helped settle his anxious mind was his bike – so when it broke down and he wasn’t able to afford to repair or replace it, he was left without his only form of effective stress relief. Despite his best efforts, both Nick and his wife could see that he was fighting a losing battle with his mental health. Along with committing to active counseling in 2015, Nick also found that helping other veterans helped him to release some of his mental anguish. He has volunteered with the Oshkosh VFW, and worked with the Office of Veteran Employment Services. He is now a Veterans Outreach Coordinator for a seven-county territory, and uses both his expertise and personal experiences to help other struggling and at-risk veterans find the help and resources they need.
Nick has since had his back repaired and has been physically pain free for some time, however, his mental struggles still remain. Years of counseling have helped him to channel his inner turmoil into an energy he now uses to push forward for his family’s sake and those he serves. These reasons among many others make it easy to see why Nick was chosen to be one of this year’s Hogs for Heroes bike recipients. Nick has accomplished so many things including serving this great country and dedicating his post military career to caring for fellow veterans, the least we could do is get him back on the road doing what he loves – riding his motorcycle. Of course there’s more to Nick’s story than I could fit into one post, so if you’d like to read more about him and his family, CLICK HERE!
So now we prepare for what I consider to be the best part of this ongoing fundraising effort. This Sunday August 7th, 2022, I am so excited to say that we will be presenting Nick with the keys to his very first ever Harley Davidson motorcycle – a 2017 Ultra Limited with only 8,500 miles on it – here at The Gathering at 11:00 AM (doors open at 10:00 AM). This particular bike was chosen after numerous test-drives and hours of searching to find him just the right bike for his large stature – not to mention it’s his favorite color, “blood red.” Win-win! Each and every bike reveal done by Hogs for Heroes is truly remarkable, but I have to say that this time around it’s going to be even more special because this bike has been fully paid for by quilters all across our nation! I am just SO PROUD to be a part of this, and I can’t thank all of you who participated enough. There are simply no words.
Though I know so many of you are far away and unable to attend, I’m officially inviting each and every one of you to join us for this special event. If you can’t be here in person don’t worry. We will be live streaming the event on my “STITCH with Lisa Bongean“ YouTube channel that day. That means you can join us from the comfort of your living room as we hand over the keys that will keep Nick riding for years to come. Make sure to stock up on Kleenex because I’m confident that there won’t be a dry eye in the house – in a good way, of course! In addition, we will also be gifting several hand-made red, white, and blue flag quilts to veterans who are previous Hogs for Heroes bike recipients. Each quilt was made collectively by volunteers from across the U.S. and comes complete with an embroidered label on the back that includes all the names of those who contributed. If you are local I really hope you’ll join us so you too can help present these deserving heroes with their quilts of valor. Let’s show these veterans that we still care about their well-being long after their service is complete! Nothing we do can make up for the adversity they’ve faced as a result of their sacrifice, but this is certainly a great start. Please come! You deserve to be a part of this special day too!
The big event starts at 10:00AM on Sunday August 7th, 2022. Presentation of the keys will be at 11:00 AM. Lunch will be available for purchase from 11:00 AM until 2:00 PM for your enjoyment. The only thing that could make this great day even greater would be to have a phenomenal turn out. Don’t let these veterans down – be there or be square!!! To tune-in remotely, simply hit the “STITCH“ button below! No excuses… See you there! ~Lisa