As written for Motown Records by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong in 1969, “War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!” For the Hogs and Heroes Foundation America, Inc., war means that it’s time for our members to band together to share a mission: honoring those serving and defending everything for which America stands. It may also represent the war on their heroes in public safety: police, firemen and emergency medical personnel.
The Hogs and Heroes Foundation, America is a community of motorcycle riders supporting public safety, the US military and Wounded Warriors. They sponsor and hold fundraising events for various charities related to their mission statement. Similar to another organization, The Patriot Guard Riders, Hogs and Heroes also performs honor missions and escort services including flag line ceremonies for fallen police officers, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, members of the military killed in combat operations and U.S. military veterans.
They plan and participate in fundraisers, fun rides and events, and also make every effort to participate in those same activities of other like-minded charitable organizations. They strive to set an example of good citizenship for the youth of our nation. To let everyone know, “Hogs”, as it appears in the Foundation name, is not “H.O.G.’s” – the representation for Harley Owners Group. The letters in “Hogs” have a meaning near and dear to each member’s heart… They stand for “Honoring Our Giving Spirit”.
So, where did this group of riders forming this organization come from? It started with a group of individuals that had served our country in a variety of ways: government service, veterans, police and firefighters. They wanted to tear down the walls, and call to arms anyone who had the heart to give back to their country and community – whether or not they had served in any fashion. Hogs and Heroes Foundation America, Inc.
(HHFA) has been in existence since 2007, and has grown to at least 27 established chapters nationwide. In 2011, HHFA was introduced into WNY, first in the Town of Tonawanda, a suburb of the city of Buffalo. They are a 501(c)(3) Organization with the national office based out of Laurel, MD. When Hogs and Heroes came to New York in the first year, Chapter One had a total of 11 members. New York is now comprised of 5 chapters with a membership exceeding 130 members. The chapters are growing outwards like the wheel on the center rocker found on their vests. Richard “Big Bear” Gerace, the New York State Director, is strategizing outward growth of chapters. He finds that each new chapter may benefit from a neighboring one and thusly not have to experience growing pains.
The evolution of local chapter growth was as follows: Chapter One established its roots in Tonawanda, Batavia-Chapter Two, Hamburg-Chapter Three, and East Aurora-Chapter Four. The most recently chartered chapter is number five, which finds its home in Niagara Falls. Each Chapter supports the local communities they serve, while enjoying the freedom of riding and the camaraderie of volunteering their time to support the needs of every last one of our nation’s protectors and heroes.
There are many organizations or clubs one can join if interested in giving back to the military and public safety community. A small group of local riders wanted to join an organization that had a purpose, a mission and who loved to ride, support our military and first responders abroad, nationally, and locally within our communities. Equally as important, they wanted the organization they joined to have an essential set of core, patriotic values (which are listed in the national by-laws of HHFA): open communication, commitment, good citizenship, active participation, accountability, respect, honor, teamwork, and of course – fun. If you think that doesn’t sound like your typical “MC” – motorcycle club – you are right. They are a family oriented foundation – several chapters, including those locally, have youth groups that actively participate in the same mission as their parents.
One of the perks of being a member of HHFA? Occasionally, members of other clubs(actual “MC’s”, or ‘one-percenters’) will approach you – to express their gratitude for your efforts. A growing percentage of the motorcycle community is aware of HHFA and their mission, and are appreciative of them.
As a direct result of their fundraising efforts, our local chapters have managed to assist many local organizations that work directly with our first responders and military families, such as: Allen Gerhardt (Niagara County Sheriff), Habitat for Humanity of Buffalo – Veterans Build, local chapter #26 of the Gold Star Mother’s Organization, Camp Corral and the local Chapter of C.O.P.S., to name a few. Organizations that will benefit from local HHFA chapter’s fundraising efforts this year include (but are not limited to): S.E.R.V. Niagara, Dog Tags Niagara, and Town of Hamburg Fire Chiefs Association A.L.E.R.T. Region 1, the West Falls Fire Hall, and our local V.A.
If you’re interesting in learning more about this foundation, they are always looking for volunteers, new members and riders. There are no obligations to join, it doesn’t matter what motorcycle your ride, and no prior military service needed. They are always looking for new people that share the same mission and want to get involved. You can view more at: http://hogsheroesfoundation.com/ or “Like” and follow them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/HHNYState . You may also contact the HHFA NY State Director at: firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
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