Photos: Homegrown Hero

LA County firefighters raise a large flag in honor of White Heart recipient Navy HMC Holly Katke and the Ride to the Flags participants at Malibu Bluffs Park on Saturday afternoon.

The White Heart Foundation’s  11th annual Ride to the Flags—from the Naval Base Ventura County-Point Mugu to Pepperdine University’s Waves of Flags memorial—took place Saturday, Sept. 8. 

This year’s ride was in support of Navy HMC Holly Katke who, along with her team of Navy SEALS, was ambushed in Iraq on August 15, 2010. Katke was shot in the head by a sniper while providing medical care to her fellow soldiers. As a result of the injury, Katke lost functionality in her right arm, hand and leg. Her speech and mental function slowed and she was left legally blind, according to the White Heart Foundation. 

“Today we had our most successful event that we’ve ever had. We raised over $52,000 before we even began this event, and hopefully we’ll pull in several more after a few raffles and frosty brews,” Ryan Sawtelle, founder of both the White Heart foundation and the Ride of the Flags, told The Malibu Times Saturday. 

The funds raised by the White Heart Foundation will provide specialized rehabilitation equipment for Katke and help with transportation for her and her daughter. 

As in years past, 2,977 flags waved in the wind as thousands of motorcyclists rode into Malibu Bluffs Park under a large flag waving overhead raised by Los Angeles County firefighters. 

For more information and to donate to the White Heart Foundation and Navy HMC Holly Katke, visit