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2024 Southern Route Coordinator January Newsletter

Happy New Year Everyone! Is it May Yet?

It’s not quite May yet, but it is time to remember what our RFTW Mission is:

“To promote healing among ALL veterans and their families and friends,

To call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action (POW/MIA),

To honor the memory of those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars, and

To support our military personnel all over the world.” 

This is why we RIDE; This is why I RIDE!

Until they all come home, until they are all accounted for, we must continue to Live a Life worthy of their Sacrifice! Say Their Names, Tell Their Stories, and Never Forget! 

As many of you already know the Southern Route hotel list was posted January 1, 2024. It takes commitment and fortitude to get the hotel list done way before most riders haven’t even decided if they’re going. I want to thank all our State Coordinators for all their dedication in reaching this deadline over the holiday season. The 2024 Southern Route Hotel list can be found here: 2024 Southern Route Hotel list. This list also contains information for those who may be camping along the way.

The planning and preparation for the RFTW 2024 Mission has continued during this cold season and the Southern Route Leadership teams continue to prepare and finalize our itinerary.


RFTW Southern Route 2024 now has over 203 registered riders and participants with less than 133 days until KSU May 15, 2024. If you have not registered yet, please do so as soon as possible. Early registration ends on January 31, 2024. Beginning February 1, 2024, registration cost increases from $45.00 to $60.00. Early registration helps us plan for our gas stops and meals.  You can register HERE.

We are all Ambassadors for RFTW while we go about our everyday lives, spreading the word about RFTW and promoting our Mission through our experiences on the Run. The BoD has created many tools to use to share information about the Mission. You can access flyers, business card templates, brochures and talking points. These are great tools to help all of us promote our Mission at local restaurants, veteran establishments, dealerships, etcClick here for RFTW promotional materials

When promoting RFTW, please remind donors that RFTW is a 501C(3) nonprofit. Donors can donate on-line here on the RFTW website. If using this link on the RFTW website, please instruct them to select how they want the donation applied; preferably directly to Southern Route or RFTW General Fund. Donations will also be accepted through Zelle directly to the Southern Route at

RFTW has a new updated Rider Code of Conduct that every rider and participant is required to read and adhere to. Please be respectful to all riders, participants, and supporters by adhering to this code of conduct while on the Run.

Pre-Paid Fuel

For the second year in a row the Pre-Paid fuel option will be available on the Southern Route. If you are riding from California to DC, please consider taking advantage of our Pre-Paid fuel program. Please keep in mind that the Pre-Paid fuel option applies to the 23 planned and coordinated fuel stops we will be making during the day while on our Mission. ALL riders are still required to fuel on their own, filling their tanks prior to staging each morning. Whether you decide to top-off at night on the way to your hotel; or on your way to staging in the morning; you must still fill up your gas!

The pre-paid fuel program has proven to get us through the gas line much quicker and provide for longer KSD rest stops. That really beats sitting in a gas line, fumbling with cash, and waiting for your turn to fuel! The Pre-Paid fuel option will again be $150.00. You can take advantage of the Pre-Paid fuel option early by using the Zelle payment app and sending $150.00 to If you use the Zelle app, please add “SR Pre-Paid Fuel 2024” in the Memo line. We will receive the notification of the payment and will have a list of those who have Pre-Paid at Registration in Ontario, CA. Below are 3 screenshots of what the process looks like using the Zelle app through USAA.

The Zelle cash app is already incorporated in many on-line banking apps such as USAA. The Zelle app is also available as a stand-alone app that can be downloaded to your phone or tablet. If you download the Zelle app, during the setup process it will ask you to identify your bank. If your bank has Zelle built into its own app it will direct you to go to your banks app!

Zelle is the only mobile payment app we are currently authorized to use.



For the first time ever, the Southern Route will offer a new fundraising event that may benefit all rider’s safety! Our newest fundraiser is the Luggage Fundraiser. The SR will have a dedicated luggage transport truck and enclosed trailer which riders may pay to have transport their luggage daily. This will allow riders to remove bags normally strapped onto their bikes and have them securely transported for them to our night stop. This adds to the safety of all riders by removing bags that could obstruct other riders view of bikes in front of them; preventing a rider of focusing on a loose item on another bike around them; removes the added weight allowing for better control of your bike while riding in formation. There are other benefits that may come into play too, especially when mother nature is factored in; but we won’t discuss that! Riders will be required to drop off their bag(s) at the morning staging/breakfast location. Bags will not be available until our final night/dinner stop. Riders will be restricted to 2 bags per bike. A check-in/check-out procedure will be followed ensuring no-one absconds with a bag that is not their own. The cost will be $7 per day or $50.00 for all 10 days. If you wish to take advantage of this new fundraiser, you can also prepay by using the Zelle app and  Please add “Luggage Fundraiser” to the memo section when submitting your payment.

If you plan to purchase the Pre-Paid Fuel and the Luggage Fundraiser all in one transaction; please enter both “SR Pre-Paid Fuel 2024” and “Luggage Fundraiser” on the memo line. If you are paying for more than one bike, please note that as well.

If you or any supporters plan to donate items to the Southern Route for Auction/Raffle please send me an email with the details of the item(s), pictures, and where that item will be presented to the Southern Route so our Fundraising Team can plan accordingly.

Gift Cards

A segment of every morning meeting is fundraising. This is done through the 50/50 raffle and item raffles. This year we’re again looking for donated gift cards to raffle at morning meetings. Please consider bringing gift cards to donate to our morning raffle fundraising. The funds are used in part to purchase fuel for the chase vehicles and medical vehicles. Just knowing the chase vehicles and medical staff are with us provides a level of comfort, safety, and security. Please help us pay for this service.


Missing Man Formation

If you are interested in riding the Missing Man Formation (MMF), please send an email to Missing Man Coordinator Rick “SpeedBump” Shoaf at Rick will explain the process, requirements, and expectations of riding in the MMF during the run.

We are still looking for a few volunteers in Platoon Leadership positions. CB communications is required for these positions. If you are not an FNG and are able and willing to volunteer for a Platoon Leadership position, please submit a volunteer form. You can also submit a volunteer form if you are interested in volunteering for any other positions.

Leave no one behind does not end on the battlefield!

Veterans Lives Matter – Give a Damn!

If you or someone you know find themselves struggling with their mental health, please know you can contact the VA Veteran’s Crisis Line by dialing 988 then press 1 or text 838255 and speak or chat with a qualified responder.

Darin “Lurch” Koch

RFTW Southern Route Coordinator 2024

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