‘No military veteran, family should ever be left behind’

Hillsborough veteran rides to raise funds to give back to military community

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Hillsborough Air Force veteran Michael Nehlsen has traveled over 37,000 miles on his motorcycle, raising over $469,000 for the Military Spouse and Caregiver Scholarship and other HOPE programs.

In August, Nehlsen will embark on the 10th anniversary of Riding For Warriors, beginning in Geneva, Switzerland, and traveling through France with multiple stops including Macon, Bourges, Le Mans, the D-Day Normandy Beach area, and back to Geneva.

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Courtesy of Hope for the Warriors — Air Force veteran Michael Nehlsen before departing for his 2023 Ninth Annual Riding For Warriors motorcycle ride.

“Riding For Warriors for the past ten years has given me the privilege to serve the military veteran community in positive and impactful ways,” Nehlsen said. “This includes granting Warrior’s Wishes and providing educational scholarships to military spouses and caregivers.

“I believe in and adhere to the belief that ‘no military veteran or veteran family should ever be left behind.’ For the past two years, I have dedicated myself to the Hope For The Warriors Military Spouse and Caregivers Scholarship Program. I have been extremely fortunate and blessed, and I feel giving back to the military community I served is essential. I am deeply grateful for their service and sacrifice, and it is an honor to support them in any way I can.”

For the 2023-24 year, the Riding For Warriors Fund was sponsored by Nehlsen and Union-based Hillman Consulting LLC.

The funds will provide two military spouse and military caregiver scholarships for multiple semesters, which include one Restoring Self Scholarship at $2,500 and one New Beginnings Scholarship at $1,800. From fall 2024 through the fall of 2025, two Restoring Self Scholarships at $5,000 (combined) and one New Beginnings Scholarship at $1,800 will be funded.

The goal of the scholarship fund is to award recipients with multiple semesters allowing them to achieve their educational goals without interruption. The recipients will also receive $700 per semester to cover educational needs, split between them.

For 2024, additional funds will also be donated to the overall Military Spouse and Caregiver Scholarship Program fund and allocated to those pursing Restoring Self Scholarships (bachelor’s degrees) and New Beginnings Scholarships (certificates and associate degrees).

Scholarships totaling $12,300 were awarded to the following for the 2024 spring semester from The Riding For Warriors Scholarship Fund, sponsored by Hillmann Consulting LLC, and Michael Nehlsen:

  • Laura Hentig of Monument, Colorado: Restoring Self Scholarship, University of Colorado – Colorado Springs.
  • Leslie Blankenship of Weeki Wachee, Florida: New Beginnings Scholarship, Allegany College of Maryland.

Since 2006, Hope For The Warriors has awarded Military Spouse and Caregiver Scholarships twice a year. The program recognizes and rewards post-9/11 spouses and caregivers for their strength, fidelity and resolve despite adversity as they assume critical roles in the financial well-being of their families.

Hope For The Warriors is a national nonprofit dedicated to restoring a foundation of stability, strength, and community for post-9/11 veterans, service members, and military families.

In 2023, the motorcycle journey was the John F. Ward Memorial Ride, honoring fallen and deceased heroes. Ward served in the U.S. Army and died in action while serving in Vietnam. The 10-day motorcycle journey raised over $43,000 for Hope For The Warriors.

“The wish we have for all of our donors is to see and feel the impact their support has on the military families that HOPE serves,” said Robin Kelleher, co-founder and CEO of Hope For The Warriors. “Thanks to Michael’s longstanding loyalty for HOPE, he truly knows how his fundraising has brought positive change to military families as he’s traveled across the country and now as he embarks on a European ride this summer. We are truly grateful for his continued commitment to serving his fellow veterans and their families.”

The 2024 fall Military Spouse and Caregiver Scholarship application is open from March 1 through April 30. To receive an application to apply, visit hopeforthewarriors.org and connect for services.

For more information on Hope For The Warriors, visit hopeforthewarriors.org.

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