Above and Beyond the Call to Volunteer

Helen Phillips

September 1, 2023

The 166th Purple Heart retreat of the Warrior Bonfire was paid for in pies! This retreat included whitewater rafting, fishing, hiking, equine therapy, a paddleboat tour, beautiful lakeside lodging, lots of tasty food, and of course, pies.

Two sisters in Centuria, Wisconsin got together weekly, starting in February of 2023, to make 20 pies per week to raffle or auction at the local hot spot, The Edgetown Tavern in Milltown, WI. Sally Ruelas and Neva Sherman worked diligently to gather sponsors to supply the ingredients each week, bake the pies, present the Warrior Bonfire Program to patrons to raffle and auction the pies, and then use the funds to plan and pay for a therapeutic retreat weekend for combat wounded warriors who were awarded Purple Hearts. Ruelas explains that, “this year we really didn’t want the organization to have to pay for anything, we wanted to truly host this group, we wanted it to come from our community.”

The level of commitment to bake pies for over 24 weeks in a row has been the catalyst for awareness in their community of the need and why it is important to support combat wounded veterans. “One of the most important things we do at the Warrior Bonfire is bridging the gap between the veterans and the civilian community, because it can sometimes be vital for the wounded veteran to see those they fought for to preserve their freedoms, actually do care for them and their wellbeing.” Vice President, Helen Phillips.

Sally, Neva, and their retreat co-host Vicki Williams have now directly affected the lives of nearly 20 Purple Heart veterans that have attended one of these retreats in the St. Croix Fall, WI area over the last 3 years, and have proven to them all that there is a large community of civilians that truly care and appreciate their sacrifice.