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2017 Ride to Sturgis Starts in

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TESTIMONIALS

It has been a few days since arriving home from the Veterans Charity Ride from LA to Sturgis and I don’t think everything has completely sunk in. For some this may seem like just a cool ride from one location to another. To those that participated this was so much more than a ride. It was a journey, not just of miles, but one of freedom in many ways. Read more

Each of us have traveled our own path for many many miles, each on a completely different path, some struggling with their own demons, scars of war both physical and mental, some visible, some hidden and some with much much more. The Veterans Charity Ride is only a few miles in comparison, but those miles and the times in between are not only soul bearing, but healing as well. When you combine the paths of many veterans, a unique thing happens, we become one again. The sharing, the laughter, the constant “sibling” rivalry between services, the understanding and acceptance grows. We look at our own issues and realize we are not alone. We witnessed some pretty remarkable breakthroughs, some realizations that we can instead of we can’t.

Each Veteran involved added so much, and we all gained understanding of not just ourselves but us as a collective whole. The amazing places we went, the views that we saw only enhance this experience. Now when we revisit these places, see them in pictures or bring up our own photos, the memories and the healing will be there again. The photographers that captured the moments were truly amazing and added immensely to the experience. To Dave and Sue for making this such an incisive experience. To all of the sponsors that make this possible, thank you.

One thing that comes to the forefront is although each of us face our own battle, we are at the core level exactly the same, Veterans.

I have been honored to share the miles, the heat, cold, rain, the laughs, the tears and the healing that was and is Veterans Charity Ride. It is almost overwhelming to be a part of such an amazing dysfunctional family, I truly thank you all.

Jim Whittum

Sergeant First Class (Ret.) US Army

It’s been a week since I’ve returned from my life changing adventure to Sturgis SD with Veterans Charity Ride. I’ve had a lot to process and sort out in my mind in my life and in my heart. I’ve been harboring so much anger and hate and disappointment with myself. It has literally been a iron ball chained to my ankle slowing me down and slowing down my recovery.Read more

The time I spent with my fellow veterans and the loving people in the group that supported us really opened up my eyes and made me want to take back what has been taken from me. The last 9 years have been so difficult for me and I’ve made life difficult for the ones I love because of it.

I gained a big family from this trip that I love to the ends of the earth. I will cherish the 2 am chats with Richie-two-chairs (Videogame Sarge) where I spilled my guts like a school girl at a slumber party. Dave Frey picking me up and encouraging me and guiding me. He also taught me the only thing we are guaranteed is our next moment, it’s ours to own it and decide how we spend it. Sue Indian-Frey and her never wavering support and wisdom teaching me not to sweat the little insignificant things. I learned something from each one of my brothers and sisters on that journey. Ronin Richard Silva dude you are a rock, I know I can lean on you anytime. Ian Freeman you are like a brother to me me you humor is on point with mine. Moses you are a beacon of motivation, you never laid down for the 10 count you keep going and that motivates me. I want all of you to know that you hold a very special place in my heart, the same kind that I have for my guys I deployed with, you all know what it means to say “I’d take a bullet for you,” and I’d take one for every one of you!!!!

You all help me gain my life back and help me focus it back on my family and myself. Words will never express what you all mean to me.

Robert ‘Pinky’ Pinkham

US Army, Combat Medic (91W)

I would like to send a big, heart-felt thank you to Dave Frey, Sue Indian-Frey and Robert Manciero. Three years ago, you came together to take a simple, yet powerful idea to bring together veterans for motorcycle therapy. Out of this one idea came Veterans Charity Ride which is so much more than just riding motorcycles. As Dave always…Read more

…puts it, the riding is just the carrot. For me, I was extremely hesitant to join VCR. With the persistence of Dave, Sue, and my wife, I gave it a shot. Even after all my excuses, they did not give up on me, they did not allow my PTSD to dictate my passing up of this opportunity.

This all began for me in April of 2017 during Arizona Bike week. Even after having what I thought was a legitimate excuse, they all conspired to get me out there for some mandatory fun. Within an instant, I went from completely unsure to hooked, grinning from ear to ear. What was “just try it once” became “I want more”. As my wife says, I did not shut up about it for a week after.

Next came the invitation to Ride to Sturgis. Even though this had been a lifelong dream to make the trip to Sturgis, it truly was not on my radar. I did not think I could make the trip, nor did I want to be a burden to anyone else. However, I would soon find out that backing out of this trip was not an option. I am so incredibly glad this was not an option.
What I discovered was this trip may have been presented as a cross country motorcycle trip, but became far more than I could have ever imagined. I honestly thought I was doing well in my life. I had built my life around being at home. I have a supportive wife, a nice home, my hobbies. Yet, I did not realize just how much life was passing me by, just how many excuses I had made for not engaging.

As my wife and I discussed the trip, one thing she said was that she could sympathize, she could empathize, but that she was unable to relate to what I went through because she had never served. This was an opportunity to be with other vets who had experienced similar situations. This was a chance to not feel so alone and broken. At the time, I did not fully understand what she was trying to get me to see. I couldn’t.

As I found out over the next several weeks, I was not alone and broken. I have discovered that I have a whole new family. We all have somethings we deal with, but that those things do not have to dictate how we are in this life. I came to a life changing understanding that my disability was not having to use a wheelchair, but instead was my own thought process. I may not be able to do things the same way I used to be able to, but I can still do anything I set my mind to. All my new brothers and sisters simply would not allow me to think this way any longer. I actually rode a motorcycle for the first time since 2011. Prior to this experience, I honestly thought this was a closed chapter in my life.

There are no words to approximate just how grateful I am for everything this trip has become to me and my family. No longer am I trying to come up with excuses to escape what is uncomfortable. I am looking forward to the next adventure with my eyes and heart wide open.

Richard ‘Richie Two Chairs’ Neider

Sergeant, US Army

So I’ve been home form the #VCR for over a week now. What a trip! A great group of fellas and one crazy funny lady. Who I could not be more grateful too as a group. Dave Frey and Sue Frey have truly blessed me with the opportunity to help a great organization, with an awesome group of folks. I can’t say…Read more

…how fulfilling it is to me to be able to give back. Ian Freeman was amazing to work with, it’s nice when you have someone that will put so much heart and effort into a job. This year’s ride was amazing and being able to be in an a group that promotes so much healing was a gift to me. To watch all of you find life again has truly humbled me. I will always be amazed with how a group of combat vets can become a family in such a short time. I want to thank all of you for the laughs and good times. I am looking forward too the future and all it holds. Remember bags down at 0500 folks for SP at 0900.
Veteran Mentor & Support Crew Damon Suiter

Sergeant, US Army

As I sit here at home with my family I’ve been looking back on the last two weeks. It’s not often a group of people is put together and end up getting along so well. All the riding and beautiful scenery would have been completely wasted if it had been shared with people who were toxic and ruined the experience.Read more

It was fitting yesterday that I woke to you guys firing up the bikes and riding away. I’m not one for goodbyes, so I was to happy to wave as you rode out on another adventure. So instead of goodbye I’ll say this. Thank you. Thank you for being great friends, brothers, and sisters, thank you for sharing your love of riding, thank you for the helping hands.

Love you all, see you soon.

Neil Frustaglio

Corporal US Marines

“The trip helped me to take stock and appreciate what I have in my life. It helped to empty my mind of all the junk that was stuck up there. It gave me a peace I have been looking to find for the last decade and it has truly helped me to finish my healing process. So, thank you Veteran’s Charity Ride, those fourteen days really helped put the last 10 years to rest.”

Damon, S.

Army, sidecar passenger

“I was going through a really hard time.  I was at rock bottom… with almost twelve years of active service, all served in the time of war, during which I suffered multiple combat injuries, and was awarded two Purple Hearts for being wounded in action.  This ride changed my life forever; physically, emotionally and most importantly, mentally.  Once I left the Marines, I found myself without an identity, dealing with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and many other physical injuries. The Veterans Charity Ride Organization came to my aid.  They rescued me, and saved my life.”

Doober H.

Marine

“I drastically underestimated the benefit of Motorcycle Therapy. I am a 43 year old combat vet that just graduated from college. After graduation I was lost.  Years spent in the Army, and then years spent in medical hold followed by a divorce and about 2 years sitting on my ass feeling sorry for myself.  After graduation I was right back feeling sorry for myself. The Veterans Charity Ride was just going to be a get-away from the couch…At the end of the two weeks I knew I had changed.  I was more focused, more open, and just happier.  I continue to relive the experiences with friends and family.  I hope to return next year in whatever capacity they will have me.”

Ian F.

Army

“After losing both of my legs in Afghanistan I had no idea what mobility would look like for me let alone any sort of fun activities anymore…Once I was fitted for prosthetics I tried to go and engage in the activities I had always wanted to, but never had.

One of these activities was getting on a motorcycle.  I had plans to get my license upon arriving home from deployment, but obviously plans changed. Veterans Charity Ride gave me the opportunity to experience being on a motorcycle and going on such an incredible route, seeing places I have never seen but always wanted to. Even with how amazing that was it is the people that make it so worth it! Having that military squad feel because everyone was in the military and thinks similarly which builds that sense of camaraderie that is lost when you leave the military. VCR gave me another family through all these veterans I rode with and honestly that is the hardest thing to leave behind once you get out. Thank you VCR for such an amazing opportunity!”

Jed M.

Marine, sidecar passenger

“My “go to” defense for my PTSD has been avoidance.  I really struggled with crowds and being around, and interacting with other people…avoidance and isolation became my remedy.  Years of behaving this way has solved none of my problems, and in avoiding everything in life, I’m missing out on so much of it.  Going on this trip forced me to engage the group, the unknown locations, and the crowds of people daily, and helped me to see the good that so many were trying to do for us.  It wasn’t just OK to be around everyone, but it actually felt good too.  The VCR trip, helped make a significant change in the way I see my surrounding world, which in turn had a profound change on how I’ve decided to continue to live my life. I was again able to brave the crowds, the confined space, and the rest of the triggers around me, and attend my son’s school band performance… for my son, I had no idea how much it would mean to him, he was so proud to have us there. Thank you for your help in changing the way I live the rest of the life I’ve been given, meeting you all, and spending time riding together really showed me a better way.”

Justin M.

Air Force

“I want to thank Veterans Charity Ride for all you’ve done for our family. We started with just a nomination for the Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis and have developed lifelong friendships, amazing memories, and a forever support system for me as well as my family. The healing and happiness I’ve experienced in this short period of time takes me to a place I never thought I’d be again.

The beauty of our country I saw from the back of the bike on the Sturgis ride reminded me of how grounded I am here at home again. The support of people from across this nation restored my faith that Americans know what we fought for and why. Their thank you’s and gratitude made me proud to have been able to serve this great country. It was so good to be with a group of my brothers again and to be able to talk about issues we deal with trying to get back to a normal life again.

I can never say enough thank you’s for all that Veterans Charity Ride has done for me. What I thought was going to be a ride of a lifetime to Sturgis was only the beginning of a lifetime full of support, acceptance and a place that gives me new hope and purpose.”

Keith H.

Army

“I knew us helping each other was the deal with this trip.  What I didn’t know was how much support we were going to get from so many.  There was so much love shared from every community we traveled through.  It was so overwhelming to feel so appreciated by so many.   This was the first and biggest revelation to ease my apprehension of moving from military life.  My transition has still not been easy but I have such a wonderful group of peers to look back on for my inspiration or call and get a little push over the hurdles.  Everyone on this ride has been a peer, a leader, a mentor and a friend to me.”

Marylyn Sabol

Marine

“In October of 2007, while deployed to Mosul, Iraq, I had my left leg blown off below the knee.  I tried to build myself back up by participating in activities like Scuba diving, snowboarding, and softball.  However these proved only to be superficial distractions from the mental agony I felt.  Despite my best efforts, I was losing the mental battle and grew to have a jaded, love/hate relationship with all aspects of my life.

Enter Dave Frey and the Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis.  Dave pioneered a powerful concept of motorcycle therapy, putting together a first class experience intended to heal veterans through the open road and genuine kinship.  On a cross country ride such as this you are alone with your thoughts while experiencing the thrill of riding.  It binds something beautiful to whatever thoughts you have; in my case I ruminated on my injury and situation more often than was comfortable with.  Enhancing the therapeutic aspect of a good day’s ride further, were the fellow veterans on the ride with me.  We were able to bond through our time together and discuss our problems with an audience that understood.

In that way the Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis provided me the tools needed to process, confront, and overcome my damaged mental state.  Equally important, it strengthened my network of friends I can turn to when needed.  Now every time I feel the stress of life bearing down on me all I have to do is take a ride on my motorcycle and the positive memories and experience of the ride to Sturgis washes over me.  I would highly recommend it to anyone going through tough times.”

Michael Brown

Active Army

“To say that the Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis is an amazing adventure would be an understatement. It is not just the motorcycles, or the destination that made it great, rather, being given the opportunity for veterans to come together and heal. After all of the injuries, deployments, and years in the hospital, the veterans of the VCR were brought together so they could once again live life to the fullest. It is an outlet, a necessary avenue towards the healing process. I believe that every veteran needs something they can turn to when times get tough. The VCR brings a constructive outlet to veterans by getting them out of solitude and experiencing all that makes this country worth fighting for.”

Nicholas Razzano

Active Army, sidecar pilot

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