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President’s Message March 2021

President’s Message:

At the conclusion of my last President’s message, I noted that riders should, “Reach out to someone, continue the mission however you can. We ride for those who can’t.” Our mission statement says we “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) from all wars, and to support our military personnel all over the world.” As you read that statement it clearly gives a direction for us to follow in 2021.

In the past two years of postponements, we have seen registration numbers expand along with accumulated funds. Typically, registration money goes toward paying planning expenses and spending to support the routes. Postponing two years has resulted in excess funds of registration fees without normal expenses.  We may be flagged by the IRS and, although this situation is explainable, it is onerous in time and paperwork necessary to calm them.

The Board of Directors feel deeply that we need to remain missional where every rider and supporter of Run For The Wall can participate. At the Mar. 18 meeting the Board voted unanimously, along with route coordinators’ consent, to begin a Facebook fundraiser that will help build a house for a severely wounded veteran’s family. The Board voted to partner with Homes For Our Troops ( in this endeavor. Homes For Our Troops, a non-profit that has extensive experience in the enormous tasks involved with the building of these homes, will assist us during the fundraiser with marketing. We will spread the news of our efforts to other donors. Once the donation phase is completed HFOT will keep RFTW informed about the building process and will invite us to assist in the landscaping of this veteran’s new house and to the ceremony turning the house over to the veteran – no matter the location.

  • We are asking our riders to donate the $30 registration fee they paid to RFTW in 2020 or 2021. No action on your part is necessary. RFTW will donate the registration fees to HFOT.
  • In addition, we are asking all RFTW riders to support this mission by raising $25,000 on the Facebook fundraiser that the board will match with the $25,000 in donated registration fees, and that will be matched again by another foundation.
  • We hope to raise $100,000-plus through this effort to help build the home.
  • If a rider prefers to not donate but would like a refund of their registration fee, contact risk manager Diann McKee at or no later than April 30, 2021.
  • The Facebook fundraiser should be on our FB page sometime next week. If you prefer to write a check, it can be sent to our treasurer Ken “Catfish” Ward at 675-N Deis Dr, Unit #226, Fairfield, Ohio, 45014.

I hope you all will participate in this honorable mission to “Promote healing among all veterans and their families.” We also hope you will spread the word about this mission to family members and neighbors so they can be part of this mission, too. Please keep reading these messages for any additional details that appear in the coming weeks. Continue the mission.

Respectfully submitted,
Les “Easy” Williams
RFTW BOD President

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President’s Message February 2021 Part 2

President’s Message:

On behalf of the Board of Directors and the Route Coordinators, it saddens me to announce that we are postponing RFTW XXXII scheduled for May 2021 because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. This action reflects the unanimous vote of the Board of Directors, with the consent of the four route coordinators. We determined it would be prudent to make this decision earlier than last year to give all the riders, vendors and citizens an opportunity to cease operations that were being prepared for RFTW 2021.

I do not intend to belabor the issues of COVID-19 and the expansive restrictions that were attached to the virus. Despite the restrictions, the Board of Directors was encouraged during the late summer and fall when cases were going down and vaccine appeared to be on the horizon.

Then, later in the fall, the limited restrictions took a turn for the worse as a new UK COVID-19 strain showed up on the East Coast and would soon be infecting the Eastern Seaboard. With the arrival of this “deadly” strain the eastern states returned to lockdowns and restrictions that prohibited the gathering of 10 – 25 people. Hardly a good atmosphere for a RFTW mission. Moreover, two additional strains located in South America appeared and were reported by the CDC to threaten the United States if they reached our shores.


As many of the states along our routes tightened their regulations, they added fines for anyone or any group who failed to conform. Civil fines vary, but can range as high as $2,500 for individuals to $25,000 or more for organizations who sponsor the breach of emergency regulations. Given the number of states RFTW passes through every Board member realized that those fines sent to our organization could end Run For The Wall. It would also endanger our riders and those who support us on our journey across the nation. Hence, the Board of Directors made a decision to protect all the riders, donors who have steadfastly supported Run For The Wall for many years, and the organization.

We decided we could not intentionally lead our riders into states/counties/cities where they will be intentionally violating federal, state and local regulations.

Route coordinators were asked to contact their state coordinators to brief the Board of Directors at the February meeting. During that meeting we heard the loss of lunch stops and fuel stops in several states – the complete loss of services that allow RFTW routes to successfully complete their mission. The critical mass of closures is in North Carolina, Virginia and Washington DC, although there are significant restrictions in all states. All the states we pass through have continued to maintain restrictions on the size of crowd gathering limiting those sizes to 10-50 people, depending on inside or outside venues.

Here are some of the restrictions we faced in the Arlington/DC area alone, as reported by the RFTW DC coordinator:

  • LE Support (affects all routes):
  • Northern Virginia State Police Motorcycle Unit: At this time, the Northern VSP Motorcycle Unit will not provide LE escort for Midway Route (@ National Museum of the Marine Corps), Central Route (@ Tom’s Brook) into Arlington or Southern Route entry through Virginia.
  • Arlington Police: At this time, Arlington Police cannot provide LE escort for our 400 riders from the Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston into Arlington National Cemetery. This is due to Executive Order 72 prohibiting outdoor gatherings of more than 10 individuals.
  • Wreath Laying Ceremony, Arlington National Cemetery. Arlington National Cemetery has discontinued all public wreath laying ceremonies until further notice.
  • National Park Service:
  • Permit to park on the National Mall. At this time, the National Park Service (NPS) will not approve a permit for RFTW rider to park on the National Mall adjacent the Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
  • RFTW Group Photo at Lincoln Memorial. At this time, NPS will not approve a permit for a group photograph on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial. At this time, RFTW will not be able to gather – in groups larger than 50 – at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
  • Virginia and DC currently have restrictions on the number of people that can gather that prohibit RFTW from conducting or completing any part of the mission.

DC also has a requirement that anyone traveling into Washington, DC from a jurisdiction with more than 10 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people:

Get a test within 72 hours of traveling, and if the test is positive, don’t travel.

  • If you are a close contact of a confirmed positive case, don’t travel.
  • If you are a visitor to DC for more than three days, get tested within 3-5 days of arrival.
  • Adherence to the mandatory mask policy, exceptions include vigorous exercise or while actively eating or drinking.

Our Risk Management director left us with this:

“Run For The Wall is not just the board or just the riders – it’s about the mission. That is what must continue. And for the Board to let the Run continue ahead this year despite the MANY restrictions still in states across our country, would most likely bring a devastating blow to this organization and its ability to continue our mission. We don’t need to tell you that we riders are very independent, resourceful and proud. Bucking the local, state or national restrictions may give us a temporary good feeling, but the repercussions that citizens may invoke upon us – not only legally but also publicly – cannot be undone.

Cancelling this year’s Run, after last year’s blow, is a heartbreaking decision for us – more than many of you will ever know. The directors of the Board started just like you – as FNGs, as riders, as leadership. We KNOW what you are feeling, because we feel it, too. But our responsibility is to YOU RIDERS and to this organization – that it will continue for years to come. We are NOT throwing in the towel. We will come back in 2022 and will show this country that we’re still here and that we have not forgotten our veterans. What riders decide to do on their own is something we cannot – and do not – want to control. As was done last year, small groups will most likely make their own trips. While RFTW, as an organization, cannot post any such trips on social media, we certainly cannot stop them from happening. The camaraderie, love and support in our family is too strong for us to be beaten by the current situation.”

It is with profound sadness that we craft this message with a special thought for the FNGs registered this year. We all remember our FNG year and what it meant to all of us, and we remain committed to making sure RFTW will be there for you in the future – know that you are very important to all of us.

I encourage all FNGs to continue reading your route coordinator’s messages and attending any FNG Zoom conferences. Your route coordinators will remain the same for RFTW 2022.

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because it makes all the others work.” ~ Aristotle

Sometimes it takes courage not to do something

Photographer Unknown

Reach out to someone, continue the mission however you can. We ride for those who can’t.

Respectfully submitted,
Les “Easy” Williams
RFTW BOD President

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President’s Message February 2021 Part 1

President’s Message

Recently I received calls concerning the death of Don “9 Ball” Morris. Don was a long time Southern Route rider who distinguished himself by riding during the start-up years of the Southern Route. Don’s achievements began with his determination to enhance and build the Southern Route. He worked his way up from participant to route coordinator in 2006 and thereafter became a mentor for many others who call the SR home.

Don was a long-term member of the Board of Directors where he served as the merchandise director. His work ethic was once again instrumental in his success while with the BOD. Don took a struggling merchandise system and turned it into a disciplined and successful process that continues to this day. I want to thank some of Don’s very loyal friends for their assistance in helping Don’s wife, Della, during this sad time, and who have provided us with some of Don’s history. John “Slammer” Gebhards provided the pictures and Don’s history both in the Army and with RFTW. Steve “Hawgwash” Hill has been working with Della in writing Don’s obituary which is included in this message.

Moreover, I would like to thank “Cowboy” Mead and “Top” Neil for their efforts to help compile a list of Don Morris’ Run for The Wall achievements and his exemplary service to our nation during his tours in Vietnam. This writer saw and listened to many of Don’s friends who felt the grief and loss of a great friend and supporter of RFTW. This, folks, is called “family.” 

Rest in Peace, Don, and our sincere prayers for Della in her time of mourning. God Bless the United States.


Don “9-Ball” Morris was born 7-1-1945 and went to his Eternal Rest on 1-22-2021

Don proudly served his country as an 11B (Infantryman) in Vietnam. During his time in Service, he attended the NCO Academy at Fort Benning, Georgia and attained the rank of SSG (Meritoriously) as the class honor graduate.

He served a tour of duty in Vietnam with “D” Company, 1st of 7th, 1st Cavalry Division where he was awarded the Bronze Star w/Combat Distinguishing Device, Air Medal, Vietnam Service Medal w/numerous campaign stars, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and the Combat Infantry Badge.

Don returned from Vietnam in July 1969. According to Della, he carried a lot of guilt for the loss of several close friends who he served with in combat including the beloved “Doc” of his unit. Don always strived to lead the life that they would be proud of. He always put others before self.

Upon leaving the service, Don took his place as an entrepreneur in the business world which would later prove beneficial to Run For The Wall.

Don loved motorcycling and became a licensed motorcycle safety instructor in Arizona.

Rising thru the ranks of RFTW, Don served as a road guard, assistant route coordinator in 2005 and route coordinator in 2006. Having a desire to continue serving the RFTW family, Don was selected to the Board of Directors in 2007 and became the Director of Merchandise. Many of the successes of merchandise today are a direct result of Don’s tireless effort to procure, catalog and obtain additional merchandise thru his years of experience in the retail market.

Don leaves behind the love of his life Della, two daughters and a huge extended Run For the Wall family.

Memorial Service for Don “9-Ball” Morris, Vietnam Vet, United States Army:

Palm Valley Funeral Home
10761 W. Grand Avenue
Sun City, AZ 85321

10:00 AM Friday, February 26, 2021

Reception following Memorial Service.
Location and map will be provided at funeral home

Respectfully submitted,
Les “Easy” Williams
RFTW BOD President

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President’s Message January 2021


President’s Message:

Hello from the chilly state of Colorado! Hope you are all doing well and staying warm. I was going to write this message a few days ago but found myself busy taking calls and reading emails regarding our 2021 Run For the Wall.

Yesterday I pulled away from those calls and emails and noticed the weather was in the 50s, so I arranged to go riding with an RFTW friend who just purchased a new Indian Challenger. We had a great ride and spent about three hours riding and enjoying the warmer weather. Jeremy’s new Indian is an impressive motorcycle. When I got home, I felt better than I have in three days – getting in the wind is the magic elixir as evidenced by this message.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

I suspect you all may be curious about all the phone calls and emails I mentioned above. While I have been on the Board of Directors, we all have been asked questions which we may not be able to answer. This year is no different. The recent questions asked have been centered around whether the pandemic will, once again, thwart or disrupt the 32nd RFTW. And several folks have asked if they will have to be vaccinated to participate on the Run.

While the answers to these speculative questions have been elusive, the Board of Directors are moving forward on planning and working towards a successful mission in 2021. We do not have all the answers yet, but we will continue planning and will incorporate new information as it is received.

Already the planning phase of RFTW 2021 has hit a few speed bumps regarding some stops. The route and state coordinators have handled many of these issues and continue to solve new problems. Their efforts on your behalf have been extraordinary.

During the January Board of Directors meeting the briefings from the RCs and the Directors were all centered around finishing up the planning process. We heard a few problems that were shared by most of the routes concerning lunch stops. Those RCs are working with their state coordinators to find solutions. The hotels along all the routes are working out successfully.


Our new California host hotel has been giving some really great deals to RFTW including the donation of rooms for registration, route supplies and meetings. The move into a new host hotel presents only one problem and that is a shortage of parking space. Our California state coordinator Carol Olmstead continues to advise me that space will be limited – especially the vendor area which will be much smaller than previous years. The parking area for motorcycles might be roped off for motorcycles only, so we will get out information on these issues.

The hotel prohibits all sales of raffle items and/or tickets in the hotel. Carol will try to get a table or two for outside sales during the day. Carol also reports the inside and outside security patrols will be 24-hour coverage. All riders are encouraged to lock bikes, tour packs and saddle bags. We still have the use of Lot D which will be across Holt Blvd for some events and our KSU program on Wednesday morning. The Ontario schedule should be available in April


Above, after the ride to Riverside National Cemetery
a few years ago, we took a side trip to Camp Pendleton.


As we close this message out, I would like to thank you all for the efforts you have made this year to keep Run For The Wall in your hearts.

Remember those who are suffering, including our friends in New Mexico where the Navajo Nation has been hit extremely hard by Covid. God willing, we will be able to stop by and help them out in person this year.

It’s been a tough year and we appreciate all of you for your volunteer efforts and support.

God bless the United States of America.

Is it May yet?

Respectfully submitted,
Les “Easy” Williams
RFTW BOD President

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President’s Message December 2020

President’s Message:

On behalf of the Board of Directors and our 2021 Route Coordinators I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a joyful holiday season. Moreover, we wish you all a very Happy and better New Year- which should not be hard as 2020 disappears in our rear-view mirrors.  Already the virus vaccine looks like something we can be grateful for, especially concerning the nation’s health. I am also grateful we will get the chance to complete our thirty-second annual Run For The Wall next spring.

The December Board of Directors opened this month with a virtual briefing from our new Washington DC Coordinator, Gail Dipple. Gail has contacted the hotels we are familiar with and is working on another hotel based on the current registration numbers. Additionally, we are all working to make RFTW routes more efficient and safer arrivals into Arlington. We will once again ask folks to avoid driving into the Holiday Inn’s parking lot if you do not have a reservation with them.

On the West Coast, California state coordinator Carol Olmstead has completed her hotel contracts which will be published along with all route hotel lists on Jan. 1, 2021. The combined hotels will have plenty of rooms available to meet our needs all across the country. In California, conference rooms will be available along with a vendor area. Please keep reading your route coordinator’s monthly briefings for any further details of hotels and other RC updates.

With the start of December, I was waiting for stories and documentaries on the attack on Pearl Harbor that occurred Dec. 7, 1941. I was disappointed there was so little on television or the Internet. What was framed as “the day that will live in infamy” by President Roosevelt as he declared war on Japan seemed minimized in contrast to last year.

The History Channel did have a good historical review that outlined the “lead up” to Pearl Harbor, then the attack itself.

There is much in our history that should not be forgotten or minimized, and I believe that keeping dates – such as the day Pearl Harbor was attacked – in focus is the duty of veterans and veteran organizations who know more than most the pain and life-changing events of warfare.

Please join me in marking historical days on your 2021 calendar in remembrance of service members and their families, that they are not forgotten.  “We ride for those who can’t.”

Thank You

As I conclude the last message of 2020, I would like to thank all the riders and supporters of Run For The Wall for your loyalty, energy and the time you donate to Run For The Wall.  Your participation is critical to each year’s success. Each year we reach out to riders and supporters seeking skills that are needed to fill positions on the routes, board committees and Board of Directors. At this time, we are seeking someone willing to serve on the BOD as Risk Management Director. If you are interested, please click on the following link to read the required skills:   If you are qualified  please send a resume to Diann McKee at

Once again have a great holiday season, a blessed Christmas, and hold your family close.

Is it May yet?

Respectfully submitted,
Les “Easy” Williams
President Run For The Wall, Inc

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President’s Message, November 2020


President’s Message:

November is a very busy month for most Americans.  Veteran’s Day is special because nearly every town provides events and ceremonies for veterans across America. I hope you all participated in celebrating what veterans have done for their country evidenced by their military service and their respect for our Constitution as citizens. For those of us who served, there is no question that military service strengthened our collective respect for the Constitution, especially each time we took the oath of office, “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies both foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me; according to the regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

We all took this oath – without exception – and when we see a patch on veteran vests reading, “My oath of office does not have an expiration date…” it largely amplifies the deep respect and love we share for our Constitution and military.

I have a friend who is a great example of all I mentioned above. His name is Hershel “Woody” Williams. Many of you may have met him a few years ago at an Angel Fire Reunion. Woody’s story is the example of what I think everyone who has served can follow once they hold the vaulted title of “citizen.” Woody is the only surviving Marine out of twenty-three Marines who were awarded the Medal of Honor for actions on Iwo Jima during World War two. He was a Flame Thrower Operator MOS 781.


After the war Woody started a 33-year
career with the VA while working with a
variety of veteran organizations. His latest
venture is the Hershel “Woody” Williams
Medal of Honor Foundation, a non-profit
that provides scholarships to Gold Star
children that facilitates the establishment of
Gold Star Family memorial monuments.
Please click here to watch one of America’s
greatest treasures.

I have heard from many riders who are keeping up with the individual route coordinator’s monthly messages. Your comments have all been positive and I urge any new participants to check these monthly briefings to discover new information about your selected route. The Board of Directors met this past week to discuss the planning process which appears to be going smoothly. The business closures we have discussed in the past months have mostly been replaced. At this meeting we discovered another Harley Davidson business in Ontario which has closed, however, we are hoping it can be replaced by another HD business that is nearby.

We are saddened to hear about these closures because not only do these dealerships help our riders while we are in Ontario and along our routes, but most of them have been very generous donors to Run For the Wall.

The hotel lists are nearly complete on all routes and we’ll be able to post them right after the first of January. Hotels in Ontario are almost complete and the use of the Gateway is still unknown. Hotels in Arlington are complete and our new DC coordinator, Gail Dippel, has been doing a great job not only with hotels but with coordination of our events with state and local police escorts. All routes are continuing to gain riders in addition to last year’s registrations.

We wish you all a happy Thanksgiving – a time we can be with our families enjoying the blessing of American citizenship.

Is it May yet?

Respectfully submitted,
Les “Easy” Williams
President, Run For The Wall, Inc

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President’s Message, October 2020

Run for the Wall - We Ride For Those Who Can't

President’s Message:

Here it is October and the leaves are turning to fall colors here in Colorado while the mountains are showing evidence of high-altitude snow.

Our October Board of Directors meeting was held in mid-month with plenty of work for everyone. I want to thank the RCs/SCs for their work in finding new hotels, service providers and other folks instrumental in making RFTW successful. While there are a few holes left to plug in some routes you can be sure they will be filled soon. Our California coordinator, Carol Olmstead, is busy getting Ontario hotels contracted. There is some question at this time if the Gateway Hotel will have their construction complete in time for our arrival. Seems they have used the California lockdown to work on their remodeling project, but the last I heard from Carol the Gateway was not sure they will be completed in time for our arrival. We have a new Washington Coordinator, Gail Dipple, working to complete the contracts for our arrival in D.C.

As I mentioned in my last message there are still folks wondering if Covid-19 will prevent us from completing the 2021 RFTW. After talking to several folks who asked this question, I can only say that the Board of Directors and the RCs are working hard planning for next spring’s mission. Folks, we are tackling the damage done after postponing the 2020 Run For The Wall last spring while progressing into the final stages of planning for 2021. I am asking you all to join us in our vision and support for the XXXII Run For The Wall May 2021. Our registrations continue to grow and those who have signed up are eager to start the mission. If you have signed up for a specific route, please be sure to read your Route Coordinator’s monthly messages on the website for any updates or changes.

As October slowly fades keep in mind that Veteran’s Day will soon be upon us – Wednesday, Nov. 11.

If you are lucky enough that your area has veteran’s events scheduled, take some time to attend – especially those in the schools. The kids are very excited and respectful to see you in their classrooms and auditoriums. Even if you have to “socially distance and wear a mask.” We Ride For Those Who Can’t.

Is it May yet?

Les “Easy” Williams
President Run For The Wall, Inc

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President’s Message, September 2020

President’s Message:

Well here it is September and a week from the Kerrville, Texas reunion. The events scheduled can be found on the website at Please note the deadline for registration for postmarked registration is Sept.21.

The Board of Directors met last week for our regular meeting. This meeting focused on planning issues underway for Run For The Wall four routes. Each Route Coordinator briefed the Board on their individual routes. All four RCs reported the planning process is going smoothly and each is working on hotel blocks for the 2021 RFTW.

As mentioned in my last message we have anticipated business closures as a result of some Covid-19 pandemic draconian regulations. Some of those businesses along our routes have closed and scheduled lunch stops have been cancelled.

Our State Coordinators are working hard to fill in those closures as they are discovered. State Coordinators are amazing and a blessing to RFTW. They have a tough job and are usually found juggling many balls at the same time. With this issue they have been on top of their game. Next year if you get to meet these leaders don’t hesitate to thank them for their faithful attention to our journey.

Getting over this wall with…
a little help from our friends.

During August I heard from several RFTW riders with concerns about whether there would be a RFTW 2021. I know the pandemic and all the other disruptions that have occurred this summer have weighed heavily on many riders. I reminded each caller that the Board of Directors and the Route Coordinators are planning and working hard for RFTW 2021.

With that said I think most of our riders weathered the storms of Vietnam, Panama, Somalia, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and I think we need to think about how we successfully weathered those tumultuous times to put this year’s issues in perspective.

Nothing was easy on this beach…

RFTW Director of Risk Management Diann McKee sent me the current registration numbers which reveal additional interest in our mission with approximately 40 new registrations in August.

The stats breakdown for 2021 (as of Sept. 13):

  • Central Route – 417
  • Midway Route – 288
  • Southern Route – 413
  • Sandbox Route – 331

(Fewer than 10 riders have cancelled for 2021)

I am very pleased with the ongoing planning process and the hurdles that your BOD, Route Coordinators, leadership crews, and State Coordinators have accomplished this this year to keep RFTW afloat in these troubled times – like all veterans, surrender is not in their vocabulary. I am equally proud of riders from all routes who have responded to our calls to purchase dated merchandise from the RFTW store. You have our utmost respect and gratitude for shopping in the RFTW store. We know you have many other choices where to shop but you chose to shop at and that act of loyalty and kindness did not go unnoticed. Our finances are in very good shape and have improved this past summer as donations have been received from private donors and through our account with If you are not signed up with please consider signing up, choose Run For The Wall as your organization and watch Amazon donations increase. Signing up costs you nothing as Amazon donates a percentage from the total purchases made by RFTW Amazon Smile customers each quarter.

Before I sign off, I would like to inform you that a former RFTW rider participant who rode for many years with the Central Route has passed away. Monte “Bull Rider” Apodoca was a passionate rider who worked hard for veteran issues and rode with RFTW to further assist veterans from all wars. Monte made many friends along the Central Route and many of you may have known him. Monte’s brother and sister-in-law, Tim and Linda Hulette of Lakewood, Colo., notified us of his death a few days ago. They have set up a Go-fund-me account for his wife Linda Apodoca, titled “A New Life for the Bull Rider’s Wife” Monte Apodaca Memorial Fund. If you are interested in donating the link is: . Rest in peace, Monte.

Is It May Yet?

Respectfully submitted,
Les “Easy” Williams
RFTW BOD President

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President’s Message, July 2020

Run for the Wall - We Ride For Those Who Can't

The Board of Directors and Route Coordinators met after Midway’s All Routes Reunion making this a busy month for those who attended both events. The Midway Reunion was a great time attended by many riders. The pictures this month reflect the good attendance during the Tennessee Reunion. All three pictures were taken the first day during a lunch stop near Franklin, Tennessee.

This lunch stop was at a park where Subway sandwiches were waiting for the riders. Due to Covid-19 restrictions on limited crowds in restaurants, this picnic lunch was necessary and fun. Above Ken “Six String” Dugas is enjoying the ride. He and a team that featured Ron King, Ed Butler and Gina Cutrer, hosted a great event culminating in a presentation of donations to tornado victims of the Cookeville, Tenn. area, and a tremendous fireworks show. Check out Ken’s route coordinator message here.

While on the Tennessee Reunion ride, we learned the Angel Fire, N.M. Reunion planned for Labor Day was cancelled, due to an order from the New Mexico governor. Sad news. As of July 2, Cowboy said the Kerrville, Tex., Reunion will be a go as long as the YO (hotel/convention center) is open. Click here to read Cowboy’s updates.

Later in July the Board met and discussed how each route was doing in their planning process for RFTW 2021. Each route reported that planning was going well, and they are all contacting the businesses that support them.

As most of you know most businesses have suffered enormous losses due to the lockout this spring and the flare up seen this summer. Reports from the Small Business Administration this week indicated that 1.8 million small businesses have close or filed for bankruptcies.

We are moving forward assuring those who have served us over the years that we will be supporting them in 2021.

Merchandise Director Ray Brammer reminded the BOD that 2020 merchandise is still on sale at 50 percent off and free delivery (for orders over $50) for the rest of the year. Ray told us that the riders have participated in huge numbers since RFTW 2020 was cancelled. Ray wants you all to know how much he and the rest of the BOD appreciates your support. Check out the merchandise tab soon because some have already sold out.

Risk Management Director, Diane McKee discussed with the board dates for opening RFTW 2021 Registration. After a short discussion it was decided to open on August 1, 2020. For those folks who registered for the 2020 RFTW and chose to turn over your registration for 2021 you do not have to do anything further unless, for some reason, you cannot make the 2021 RFTW. We will need to know about any cancellations so our Route Coordinators have an accurate number of riders. If you have not registered for the Sandbox Route, there are special instructions on the Sandbox Tab of how to contact RC Billy “Bugs’ Dunlap to be placed on “waiting list”.

Our meeting ended sadly when Central Route, RC Tom Miller announced that long time riders and former Board of Director, John King passed away on July 6th.  John King and his wife, Elle have supported RFTW for a very long time and was a great friend to hundreds of riders. John was a kind and soft-spoken man who lived to help his fellow man.

His experience with RFTW was legendary and if asked for advice he would kindly give to anyone. Several years ago, this writer, while eating lunch with John, asked him several questions that I knew would help our current BOD with some history. John smiled and very softly told me we were on the right path with the issue and that he had experienced a similar problem while on the board. The conversation was enlightening in many ways and I will always count John King as a very good friend and mentor. Details of a memorial service are pending and when I get the details, I will pass it along.

The family has said that if you wish to make a donation, please send a check to Michael G. Yazzie-King Scholarship, c/o Eve’s Fund, PO Box 3592, Newport, RI 02840-0301, in memory of John and Ela’s son Michael. Their daughter Jessica has posted additional information on Facebook. Rest in peace, John.

Is It May Yet?

Respectfully submitted,
Les “Easy” Williams
RFTW BOD President

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President’s Message, June 2020

Run for the Wall - We Ride For Those Who Can't

Usually in the month of June I am writing about how the four routes did on RFTW 2020! I miss the preliminary information we normally get and the great stories I enjoy sharing with you all. So, since our journey was a virtual one this year I can say by the calls and emails I have received from riders you all found a few smiles and laughs and some tears in the nostalgia of the Virtual RFTW 2020.

During the end of May I did receive calls from riders who saw the damage done to the World War II and Lincoln Memorials and feared the Vietnam Memorial Wall was damaged, too. I was at a loss to answer but must confess I had the same fear. I called John Staub, our Washington DC State Coordinator, who in turn asked his Park Service Police contacts if the “Wall” had been damaged during the riots. The Park Service Police said the “Wall” was not damaged or defaced and starting on Tuesday, June 2 National Guard troops would begin providing security for the Vietnam Wall and many others until the riots end. Moreover, we heard from the folks at Arlington National Cemetery that our wreath-laying request was granted for 2021.

In last month’s message I discussed some RFTW financial issues with you while laying out the problem we have with 2020 pins. Once again you all came through and responded in a big way. BOD Merchandise Director Ray Brammer’s big sales on pins was a big hit with you all. Now, as we approach the 4th of July, I think Ray may have in mind a surprise that you shoppers might find encouraging. Just keep an eye on the RFTW store in the coming days.

One more item before I close that I want to mention that most folks seldom hear about. RFTW every year receives water and food item donations from PepsiCo and Nestle’s that sustains RFTW riders all across the country—keeping everyone hydrated and snack happy every day of the run on most of our routes. The person who is responsible for securing all these donations and the one who makes sure they are distributed to the routes is our California State Coordinator Carol Olmstead. Carol also receives a big hand up from our M-25 chaplains. I’ve worked with Carol for many years and watched her help RFTW riders and supporters with the heart of a servant.

Carol Olmstead, photo by Jim “Hoofer” McCrain

I affectionally refer to Carol as the original “Energizer Bunny.” She makes important things happen for a whole bunch of people including all the events in Ontario prior to our departure.

Now, if that were not enough, she also runs the Southern Route’s merchandise trailer sales all the way. In 2021 Carol will handle the merchandise sales for the Sandbox Route, too. So, you ask, “But what happened to all the food and hydration that was donated for the 2020 RFTW?” Much of it would expire or be impractical to store until May 2021.

Given the postponement this year Carol found many folks throughout the country who are and were in need of these items. She has made sure that all the donations have been sent to folks in need. Many of these food stocks and hydration pallets were sent to our friends on the Navajo Reservations in New Mexico. COVID-19 has hit this area of the nation exceptionally hard and their needs were never in question. In fact, the city of Gallup, N.M. was entirely closed off due to an exceptionally hot outbreak. Great work, Carol, we appreciate everything you do!

Connie and I are heading to Tennessee for the All-Routes Reunion July 2-4. Ken “Six String” Dugas and his team have raised a lot of money and will make some special presentations at Cookeville for tornado relief. If you are so inclined to donate you may send a check to RFTW BOD Treasurer Ken Ward noting the donation is for “Cookeville Tornado Relief”– about 5 or 6 veteran homes have been identified as in big need.  Looking forward to seeing some RFTW family on this reunion. Hope you have plans to make it to Tennessee, Angel Fire, N.M. and/or Kerrville, Tex., and hope to see you at one or more of the reunions! Check out the route hubs on the website for more information.

Is It May Yet?

Respectfully submitted,
Les “Easy” Williams
RFTW BOD President