St. Louis: Rich Bickle returns in VFW Chevy

BICKLE RETURNS TO TRUCK SERIES BEHIND THE WHEEL OF THE VFW HIDDEN HEROES FUND CHEVY Mooresville, NC (April 26, 2005) - Rich Bickle will return to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this weekend in the Dodge Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International...

BICKLE RETURNS TO TRUCK SERIES BEHIND THE WHEEL OF THE VFW HIDDEN HEROES FUND CHEVY

Mooresville, NC (April 26, 2005) - Rich Bickle will return to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this weekend in the Dodge Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway. Out of the series for over a year, the veteran of 74 NCTS starts is returning with a solid opportunity and a solid cause.

"I didn't like sitting out last year, but you have to have the right opportunity and every driver knows those can be in short supply at times," said Bickle, whose last Truck Series ride was the 2003 season finale at Homestead, FL. "Fortunately, this latest opportunity with the VFW has a great program in place both on and off the track. It's going to be fun to race in the Truck Series again."

Bickle's return to the Truck Series ranks will be behind the wheel of the No. 08 VFW Hidden Heroes Fund Chevrolet. The effort features a three-race schedule beginning this weekend at Gateway with additional NCTS events at Mansfield, OH and Charlotte, NC. For Bickle, a three-time winner in the series and the runner-up in the 1997 championship standings, it's the solid chance he's been looking for.

"This is going to be very cool because we've got a lot of good racing friends involved in this effort and we've got some new ones too in the VFW," Bickle stated. "We're having Bobby Dotter and Green Light Racing provide the trucks and Carl Wegner is building the engines for Veterans Racing. Bobby and I have raced with each other since our short track days back in Wisconsin and Carl has provided great engines for me since I started my career. That's a solid combination. The team part of the puzzle is there."

So is the message according to the Edgerton, WI native.

"We've formed some solid partnerships, especially with the VFW -- Veterans of Foreign Wars of America," Bickle stated. "The VFW came to us with a need to draw attention to a very important program -- the Hidden Heroes and Wounded Warriors Fund. There are a lot of families of our active duty military personnel who struggling and the VFW is trying to help them through the Hidden Heroes and Wounded Warriors Fund. It's a great idea and we're sure NASCAR fans and people everywhere will embrace it."

Spearheaded by the VFW State Departments of North Carolina, Missouri, Texas and Virginia, the Hidden Heroes and Wounded Warriors Fund is a program that will directly benefit the families of American service people. The Internet donation drive was launched earlier this week on America Online, Inc, a leading global Internet Service Provider.

"There are thousands of American service personnel who have left behind families here in the United States who are dependant upon them for financial support," stated Bruce Edwards, VFW Adjutant/Quartermaster of North Carolina. "Those families are suffering, some going without the most basic needs such as food, clothing and appropriate living conditions. We're hoping NASCAR fans and American citizens everywhere will open their hearts and their pocketbooks to help us support the families of our troops who are fighting to bring and preserve freedom throughout the rest of the world."

"Families of our active service people have enough to be concerned about without having to worry how they are going to pay the rent or if have grocery money," stated Bickle. "When Bruce Edwards and the North Carolina VFW first came to us and explained what's going on, I was floored. I had no idea this was happening. I don't think most people in America know about it either. We're hoping the No. 08 Hidden Heroes Fund Chevy Silverado will be able to allow millions of NASCAR fans other Americans become aware of this problem. Their donations will help thousands of our military families sleep a little easier at night."

Donations collected through the VFW Departments' Hidden Heroes and Wounded Warriors Fund will be used to provide VFW departmental development programs, emergency grants, rental/grocery/medical expenses, support for widows and orphans of American soldiers/veterans, aid and comfort items for wounded and injured soldiers and veterans in military and veteran's hospitals.

The first phase goal of the Hidden Heroes Fund is to collect at least $5 million in donations by July 4

"I know the initial goal of the program is to raise $5 million, but wouldn't it be incredible to raise $50 million or more?" Bickle asked. "Think about how much good the VFW Hidden Heroes and Wounded Warriors could do with that money. I feel very lucky to be a part of something so worthwhile."

Contribution levels to the VFW Hidden Heroes and Wounded Warriors Fund begin at as little as $5, are tax deductible.

Donations to the fund can be made with a Visa, Master, American Express or Discover Card at www.vfwhiddenheroes.com.

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Rich Bickle , Bobby Dotter