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The Heroes Ride Eastern Route Begins Their Journey in Appleton August 2

On Friday, August 2, the Eastern Route bicyclists will pack their support vehicles and leave Appleton to begin their three-day journey to The Highground for the 40th Annual Heroes Ride Bike Tour.

This event started in 1985 with Tom Miller biking 1,244 miles across Wisconsin to bring awareness and recognition to Vietnam Veterans and to raise funds to lay the foundation for The Highground. The miles Tom rode represent the number of Wisconsin service men and women killed in action (KIA) during the Vietnam War.

Riders with the Eastern Route gather at the Vietnam Veterans Tribute “Fragments” for a group photo after completing the 2023 Heroes Ride Bike Tour.

For 39 years, Vietnam Marine Veteran Jim Braatz has coordinated and participated in The Highground’s Annual Bike Tour. His son, Curt, began riding with him at the age of 10. As an adult, Curt has joined his father in the coordination of what is known as the “Eastern Route.” When asked why he rides Curt Braatz says, “People tell me I am crazy for riding 150+ miles on a bicycle. I tell them I can sacrifice my body and energy for three days in memory of those men and women that made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our everyday freedoms. I ride for my dad, and I hope to keep riding until I can’t anymore.”

The Eastern route rally’s up in Appleton and travels on country roads through New London, Plover, Miladore and Marshfield. On Sunday morning, August 4, the route begins the last leg of their journey. They will arrive at The Highground between 10:30 and 11:30am to be greeted by supporters as well as Vietnam veterans and guests who will be attending the Vietnam Reunion that day.

This isn’t a one-day, six-hour event. The riders spend months preparing, training, and gathering their sponsors to endure the 2-3 days of blisters, sore muscles, fatigue, sunburn, windburn, chaffing, and of course the Wisconsin weather. They arrive at The Highground on that first Sunday of August, quietly, with only their fellow riders welcoming them. They gather on the plaza for the “Heroes Family” meal, and they welcome the short ceremony that follows, allowing them the time to return home and rest before tackling their work week. It is, without a doubt, the most understated event of the year.

To help make the 40th year of the Heroes Ride Bike Tour an unforgettable experience, The Highground designed this year’s t-shirts with the original event logo from 39 years ago. Riders also have the option to purchase the 40th Anniversary bicycle jersey with the same design.

The Heroes Ride is The Highground’s largest and longest running fundraiser, raising over $95,000 in 2023. The ride has helped the organization confidently continue its focus on veterans programs that offer social groups and restorative retreats to veterans and their families to help them overcome the challenging emotions associated with military service.

The Highground extends a special thank you to the following supporters: Marine Corps League Dept. 552, American Legion Trier-Puddy Post 75, American Legion Post 263, American Legion Post 54, VFW Post 1037 and VFW Auxiliary 10262.

The Highground is grateful for all returning riders and looks forward to welcoming new riders every year. There is still time to join a route near you. For registration and route information, visit thehighgroundheroesride.com. General event questions can be directed to Elizabeth Springer by email to events@thehighground.org or by calling 715-743-4224.

For information about The Highground, event updates and more, follow them on Facebook at Facebook.com/TheHighgroundVeteransMemorial.

The Highground is located at W7031 Ridge Rd, Neillsville WI 54456.