Love at first sight for Hoagy’s Heroes

Hoagy Ride photo for article

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Hoagy Carmichael has always had a heart of giving, starting when he was helping with the Special Olympics in 1970. So it was no surprise that when he met John Mattox in the 1990s during a fundraising event for A Special Wish Ohio Valley, he knew he wanted to get involved with ASWOV. After that meeting, anytime there was an event for the kids, Carmichael was front and center.

He began organizing rides to raise funds for several local organizations in 2003.

The rides were such a success, it was suggested that they begin raising funds for ASWOV. In 2004 Carmichael put together the first fundraising ride for ASWOV. It was a 1,500 bun burner, which is 1,500 miles under 36 hours. There were 67 riders from eight states and they raised $30,000 for ASWOV.

“John is top shelf and he has come to several of our functions throughout the years”, said Carmichael.

It’s all in the name. As Carmichael became more involved with the community, he realized he needed a website and a name to use on the site. Hence the birth of Hoagy’s Heroes.

“Over the years, we’ve raised $230,000 and $150,000 has gone to ASWOV, including almost 100% of the pledge money from the riders. This past year, Hoagy’s Heroes raised over $7,000 for ASWOV”, Carmichael said.

His wife, Amy, is also very involved and became the treasurer of the organization in 2011. Amy participates in some of the rides when they are riding to support other organizations. And Amy was the representative for the state of West Virginia for the ride in memory of iron butt rider Jack Sholmeyer.

“One of my most memorable moments was when I was teaching riding class in Texas. It was very hot so I was teaching the riders how to prepare for the heat. There was a former marine in the class and he knew everything there was to know about riding and working in the heat, so he didn’t want to hear about what I was teaching. Believe it or not, he passed out on one of the stops from heat exhaustion and couldn’t finish the ride. He was the first and only rider I’ve ever worked with who was not able finish a ride”, Amy said.

One of the best things about Hoagy’s Heroes and the rides is the people you meet and the friends you make along the way, organizers said. Once you’ve been to a ride with Hoagy’s Heroes, almost everyone comes back again and again. Even if they are not participating in the ride, they come to eat and fellowship. It gives you faith in humanity. Some riders come from over 2,000 miles to help the local kids in the Upper Ohio Valley.

Amy also said, “We care about people and we open our home and our hearts to the riders. And they care back. You can fill your bank account, but you can’t fill your heart – it’s what’s in your heart that matters. We get, so we give back 100 percent of the funds we raise from the rides”.

You can learn more about Hoagy’s Heroes at www.hoagysheroes.org or by calling 304-639-1863.

If you know someone who could benefit from a wish or you would like to get involved with ASWOV, call 740-449-2063 or visit www.spwishov.org. All of the proceeds raised for the Ohio Valley Chapter stay in the local market to grant wishes to local qualified individuals. You can get involved with A Special Wish by volunteering, making a donation, making a referral and more. For information visit www.spwishov.org.

A Special Wish Foundation is the largest wish granting organizations in the state of Ohio. ASW grants wishes to qualified children, adolescents, and adults up to age 21 who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. The Ohio Valley Chapter serves the areas of Belmont, Brooke, Hancock, Harrison, Jefferson, Marshall, Monroe and Ohio counties and is one of nine chapters.

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