Herm Pillip, a Purple Heart recipient who fought in the Korean War and lives in Roanoke, greets a member of Rolling Thunder. Members of the group lined up to shake his hand and thank him for his service when he arrived at New Freedom Farm’s Freedom Rocks Fest Saturday.

Lois Fritz (right) stands with Joe Bean, national president of Rolling Thunder, at New Freedom Farm’s Freedom Rocks Fest Saturday.

A dreary Saturday didn’t deter more than 800 people from around the country who made their way to New Freedom Farm in Buchanan Saturday for the nonprofit’s first Freedom Rocks Fest.

Lois Fritz, founder of New Freedom Farm, used the concert to bring awareness to the support military veterans need.

“The statistics are real,” Fritz said. “In our country, 22 veterans a day commit suicide.”

New Freedom Farm, home to many rescues horses, provides a therapeutic experience to veterans suffering from PTSD, substance abuse disorder, TBI, etc. Its mission is to heal humans through horses.

Fritz began organizing the concert in October. Several local guitar players who study under teacher Mike Lee opened for country musician Rockie Lynne.

Rolling Thunder, a motorcycle group with nearly a hundred chapters nationwide and whose mission aligns with New Freedom Farm, had members from as many as nine states in attendance.

Fritz said one Vietnam veteran even hitched a ride from North Carolian to attend the festival.

“You never know the difference you’re making in a person’s life,” Fritz told the crowd, many of them veterans like herself. “One kind word, one smile, one gesture could make a difference in someone’s life.”

To learn more about New Freedom Farm, or to learn about its services and how to contribute, visit www.newfreedomfarm.net.