HeroFest® began, in the American tradition, from humble beginnings. It started from a conversation between two retired veterans over breakfast in a local Cleveland area coffee shop.
Observing the overwhelming needs of our veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and having "been there", Tom Millard began discussing with his friends what they could do about it.
As a veteran of the Vietnam War, Tom's empathy for veterans was deeply personal. Tom suffers with heart issues associated with exposure to the chemical known as Agent Orange during his service in Vietnam.
His experiences taught him what a lonely and painful road wounded veterans must travel searching for benefits and help that are hard to find or simply don't exist. He personally understands how difficult the transition from combat to civilian life can be.
Tom's vision was to create an organization that would celebrate the service of America's heroes and support the organizations that serve them in return. It can be best summed up by his favorite phrase: "It's time to give back to those who gave so much."
"If Jerry Lewis could create an annual telethon for the Muscular Distrophy Association, then we should be able to create an annual event of that scale that for our veterans."
The vision for HeroFest® was born:
- Create an annual event that celebrates America's heroes and the organizations that serve them
- Raise substantial amounts of money and distribute it to the most worthy veterans' organizations.
- Educate the public about the sacrifices made by our veterans, the challenges they face and the organizations that serve them
- Educate veterans about the services available to them and connect them with those organizations