The Permission to Start Dreaming Foundation helps veterans focus on their strengths so they can fulfill their dreams. (Photo: USMC)

Permission to Start Dreaming

Sept. 30 car and music festival helps injured veterans kickstart their dreams

BREMERTON — PTSD is widely viewed as a disorder that limits the individual’s abilities.

The PTSD Foundation has a different belief.

“PTSD” in the foundation’s name stands for Permission To Start Dreaming. The foundation believes in each individual’s strength and talent — the very characteristics that enabled them to put their lives on the line and serve their nation with distinction — and helps them reconnect with themselves through professional services, challenging peer adventures, education, and spiritual activities.

Brian Nilsen of Bremerton Motorsports Park and Circuit of the Northwest, agreed to host an upcoming fundraiser for the foundation — Drafts & Drums on the Drag, at the motorsports park — after meeting PTSD Foundation President Leslie Mayne.

“What resonates with me is she empowers, she doesn’t victimize,” Nilsen said of Mayne. “She helps them leverage the strengths that they had on the battlefield. Instead of [their war experiences] being a hindrance, she helps them leverage their strengths and experience into something powerful in their everyday life. She doesn’t counsel and medicate. She empowers them and helps them recognize that they can do anything.”

Drafts & Drums on the Drag is scheduled for 2-8 p.m. Sept. 30 at the motorsports park, which is commonly known as Bremerton Speedway (although the motorsports park also has areas for autocross, motocross and off-road motorcycle racing, and is also used for driver skills training, safety training, and K-9 training).

The event will open with a ceremony saluting Kitsap’s military personnel, followed by a vintage car show, a pin-up model contest, local food, brews from eight local breweries, and performances by three bands: Knucklehead, a classic rock power-trio from Bremerton; Ben Union, a Seattle-based R&B, soul and alternative rock band; and Hell’s Belles, an all-female AC/DC tribute band from Seattle.

You can watch yourself having fun on a Jumbotron screen. There will be games, swag bags and more. (To buy a ticket to the event, go to To enter the vintage car show or the pin-up model contest, email

A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Permission to Start Dreaming Foundation (, which was founded in 2011 in Gig Harbor and since then has given more than $200,000 to alternative therapy programs that help soldiers give themselves “permission to start dreaming” of life beyond their service to country.

Among the annual fundraising events the foundation organizes: Swing For A Soldier Golf Tournament in July; Pull for A Soldier Trap Shoot event in September; a Prayer Breakfast, in September; and Race For A Soldier, also in September, featuring a half-marathon, a 5K and a Virtual Run.

Beneficiaries of the foundation’s fundraising:

Sierra Club Veterans Expeditions, which empowers veterans through outdoor training and leverages the veteran’s leadership skills to connect him or her with employment opportunities.

Heartbeat Serving Wounded Warriors, which provides emergency financial assistance as well as morale-building outdoors programs.

All American Assistance Dogs, which provides returning veterans with canine companions to aid in their life outside of service.

Operation Ward 57, which assists wounded and ill service members, veterans and their caregivers through advocacy and education.

Growing Veterans, which uses farming as a platform to equip veterans with knowledge and skills to be peer support mentors.

Spike’s K9, which supports training, care and preservation of military service dogs to ensure their complete health while working and during their retirement days.

Crista Camp’s Operation Xtreme, which offers supportive and fun retreat experiences for children and youth from military families.

USO Northwest, which aims to provide all the comforts of home to service members and their families through morale events, troop care packages and family services, including counseling and community services.

“Living in the Puget Sound, we’re surrounded by veterans and military installations,” Mayne said in an announcement of the Sept. 30 car and music festival. “We want to speak to the hearts of [military personnel] and the community. This event provides us an important stage to share our story and the stories of our warriors coming home from war.”

She added, “Many of our soldiers come back with invisible wounds that they have trouble healing on their own. They have trouble settling their souls down. Our foundation and our generous supporters help them with that.”

Nilsen, whose cousin did several tours in Afghanistan, said the decision to align with the PTSD Foundation made sense.

“Kitsap County’s connection to the military and interest in classic cars have grown side-by-side for decades,” he said, noting that the drag strip is located on an inactive runway adjacent to Bremerton National Airport and was used by the U.S. Navy during World War II.

“It’s time we bring these two homegrown passions together in an end-of-summer music festival that celebrates both.”


What: Drafts & Drums on the Drag, a fundraiser for the Permission to Start Dreaming Foundation.

When: 2-8 p.m. Sept. 30.

Where: Bremerton Motorsports Park (Bremerton Speedway), adjacent to Bremerton National Airport, 7500 SW Old Clifton Road, Port Orchard.

Features: Performances by Knucklehead, Ben Union, and Hell’s Belles; vintage car show; pinup model contest; local foods; and brews from eight Kitsap breweries.


— Richard Walker is managing editor of Kitsap News Group. Contact him at

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