Here’s hoping you were able to ride on Memorial Day and honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Whether you stayed locally or rode many miles to pay your respects – you did your duty. Just after many of us returned home (Connie and I visited the Missouri Veterans Memorial in Perryville, photo at right by Maz, and the Middle East Conflicts Wall in Marseilles, Ill.), it was in time for our annual remembrance of the D-Day landing at Normandy. June 6, 1944, was one of the largest and boldest amphibious operations every conducted. The landing was preceded by a night airborne insertion behind enemy lines that turned the course of the battle on June 6. This allied operation pushed through to Germany, liberating French, Belgium and Jewish citizens from the scourge of the Nazi regime leading to their surrender on May 7, 1945. Without question those efforts in Europe saved the citizens of freedom-loving nations around the world. I hope you had a chance to pay an additional tribute to that operation that ended 76 years ago. Many in Washington, DC paid tribute on June 6.
Last Thursday the Board of Directors held their June meeting with route coordinators and the new members of the board. It was a time to say goodbye to Ray Brammer, Ken Ward, Don Burns and Diann McKee after their faithful service to Run For The Wall. (I, too, am finishing up my second and final term.) The board then welcomed new directors Bill Clark, Jenny Ward, Joe Bookataub, Ted Kapner and Ron King. The new board members will take over their duties on July 1, 2021.
During the course of the meeting, it was noted that the rftw.us website did not contain any information on our on-going fundraiser for Home For Our Troops. After some discussion it was decided to get that information on the home page quickly. Our new communications director Ted Kapner inserted that information on the site and created a new feature that will reveal how the fundraiser is doing month-to-month. To see this new feature, go to rftw.us and wait two seconds. Unlike Facebook’s file, this one will not expire monthly – it will simply update the results of the three pathways we are currently using to send donations. Thanks to Ted for his clever creation and help.
While I’m on the topic of the fundraiser I want to mention I got a message from a mom who lives in Aurora, Colo., this week who knows about our fundraiser and mentioned it to her daughter – who mentioned it to two of her friends. Over the weekend the nine-year old girls decided to set up a lemonade and muffin stand with all the proceeds going to our fundraiser for Homes For Our Troops. I think they will do well with folks passing by the stand because their smiles are irresistible. Thanks, girls.
Well, with that RFTW business complete, I would like to send a big thank you to the outgoing directors and their spouses for their heartfelt service to Run For The Wall. They all contributed a ton of time making the past six years a success for the organization and the riders. The challenges they dealt with were, at times, monumental – with the age of lawsuits, social media uproars and pandemics. They did their jobs and overcame issues that, at first glance, looked insurmountable. I am proud to have served with all of them and I wish the incoming board members the very best. I know you all will support them in their new endeavors. As we have grown more and more technical in our director positions, I want to encourage all riders to step up and share your skills in these areas as they come available. Speaking of being technical, I would also like to thank my friend and mentor, Harlan Olson, who started me on this BOD mission.
So, with that said, this will be my last president’s message and I want to thank you for your support and encouragement over the last six years. Your new president, Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme will take over on July 1. He is an outstanding leader and is on top of the issues that Run For The Wall deals with annually. The corporation is in good hands.
In closing I would also like to thank our two state coordinators from California and Washington, DC and all of the others in between. Carol Olmstead is the volunteer who makes our Ontario hotels and schedule work. She works tirelessly to make our four days in Ontario a success each year. She is truly Run For The Wall’s version of the “energizer bunny.” She makes things happen you would not believe. Thanks, Carol, you’re the best.
Gail Dipple is our Washington, DC state coordinator and like Carol she is driven to help make RFTW a success. Gail contracts all the hotels in Washington and all the events we enjoy in Washington. She, too, gets things done for all the riders and works hard for you all. Thanks, Gail you, too are the best. John Staub was our DC coordinator prior to joining the BOD. These two state coordinator positions work closely with the BOD president so we have had hundreds of phone calls, emails and “situations” to work through together.
There are many others to thank, including all of the riders and staff who make this team work. There is no organization like this one in the world. Take care of it and guard it each and every day. See you all on RFTW 2022.
One Mission – Four Routes.
Les “Easy” Williams
RFTW BOD President