Group’s donation of a Harley greatly appreciated

By Milan Eagle Media

Foundation 14, a private, non-profit organization was founded by Maria Caruso and Jay Holly. They are committed to supporting our military veterans and their passion for riding, doing everything they can to get veterans on the road. They raise funds and awareness for disabled veterans and established the Motorcycle Modification Fund to pay for required modifications to their bikes. November 2016, approximately 300 people gathered in Tecumseh as Foundation 14 honored their first veteran, Corey Smith with his bike.
March 25 once again a crowd gathered, filling the room, this time in Dundee at the Old Mill Museum to honor Cpl Jennifer Ratliff, USMC. At the age of 17 Jenn’s parents signed off and she enlisted. After boot camp at Parris Island she soon deployed to Afghanistan and was stationed at Camp Leatherneck. Jenn proved herself over and over again in order to gain the respect of those she served beside. She was a woman serving in one of the toughest branches of the military, and in a combat role, Jenn lived by a standard – to always be Mission Ready.
She was forced to retire from injuries sustained while deployed. She misses the Corps. She’s a single mom of a young daughter and putting herself through the Criminal Justice program at Wayne State while working at the Veterans Resource Center. She still felt the pain of not being in the Marines at the same time battling nightmares, anxiety and memory flashes. Post-traumatic stress disorder, may not appear as a physical injury but it is very real injury-demons that the average person will never understand. Veterans are perhaps the people most often associated with PTSD.
When Foundation 14 found Jenn and asked her to describe what it was like to ride on a bike she said “there is nothing like it…it’s therapy”.
The evening began with Maria, Jay and several guest speaking briefly.  ABATE Region 14 biker, Rodrick Beaton (aka Hot Rod), introduced all the clubs in attendance. Veteran honorees for 2017 were Nick Queen, USMC, Anthony “Goose” Pegouskie, USMC, Mike “Grunt” Emory, US Army, Andrew Cummings, US Army, Brandon Streu, USArmy, Josh Wieringa, US Army, Jim Sievert, USMC and Richard “Gung-Ho” Cosme, USMC. It was a very emotional moment when Rich’s grandfather accepted his award and spoke from his heart of his love for his grandson, how proud he is and how he misses him.
The highlight of the evening was when the new shiny black Harley Davison with the blue trim revved up the engine riding in. Tears of appreciation and surprise couldn’t be held back by Jenn. Many were snapping photos to capture the moment, rushing toward the front of the room to congratulate and hug her. In addition to the bike, Jenn received 3 years full warranty, 1 year insurance, (Kevin Clark with Farm Bureau Insurance, Clark Agency – West Michigan, made a donation which will cover the cost of her premiums for the first year) and a helmet ordered especially for her, cost of the helmet was covered by a personal donation from Joe Cirabisi (US Army Veteran and Foundation 14 Board Member).  She’s ready to roll! Ready for her “therapy”!
Thanks to all the sponsors, especially Todd Miller at Monroe Motorsports, Johnny Rakipi at Milan Coney Island, Drew Cummings at American Legion in Milan and Matt Stanford and Joe Cirabisi at Ann Arbor Varsity Ford.
In addition, there were others that donated their time working with Jay fabricating parts and with the custom paint.
The goal of Foundation 14 is to get vets on bikes. One hero at a time, it is making a difference which can’t be measured in dollars.
ABATE (American Bikers Aiming Towards Education) promote freedom on the road. Look Twice – Save a Life. Motorcycles are everywhere

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