Well, it is February 4th as I sit down to write this; 100 days from KSU. Punxsutawney Phil came out two days ago and predicted an early Spring. It has not been a particularly tough winter here, a couple of weeks of below freezing temperatures, but then right back up into the middle 40’s. I just got my bike out of the shop with new tires and a going over in preparation for May. The bike is ready, and I continue my exercise routine to try and coax this tired old body into another year. I will be ready come time to head towards Ontario. Are you too prepping for May? It is not too late to start!! Maybe get your checklist out and start going over your preparations. May will be here before we know it!!
On the good news front, I am sure you have read of our very own James “Gunny” Gregory’s induction into the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame this coming year. During the 3rd week of February, there will be a massive press release to over 300 radio, TV and motorcycle industry magazines announcing the 7 August induction. General admission tickets are $55 and will go on sale 1 March. More to follow as it develops. If you are thinking of attending, as with the Run, you might want to make your hotel reservations early. Sturgis gets pretty busy that time of year.
One of the challenges of the BoD is ensuring a consistent funding stream to pay all the expenses that come with this type of organization. Registration fees help as do donations, but honestly, we cover most of our expenses through merchandise sales. This year, we need your help. If you are riding ATW and are interested in how you can help, our Director of Merchandise is looking for two couples that will be going ATW and are willing to work selling RFTW merchandise for both Central and Midway. We are not looking for someone to tow the trailers; just to sell our merchandise at the various stops. If you might be interested in assisting in this capacity, please send an email to email@example.com. Alan will be able to fill you in on the details. There may even be an incentive or two available.
On 3 February, I was able to virtually attend the Celebration of Life for RFTW long-time rider Karoni Forrester’s father, USMC Capt. Ronald Wayne Forrester. Capt. Forrester was shot down on December 27, 1972, and through the efforts of so many, his remains were finally repatriated. RFTW was well represented at the Celebration and there were over 130 folks online. Welcome Home Capt. Forrester!! Thank you to all who attended, whether in person or virtually. We Ride For Those Who Can’t!
We are finalizing plans for both Ontario and DC, and we are pleased to announce that while we will not be able to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we will be able to place a wreath at an alternative location inside Arlington National Cemetery. The intrepid Gail continued to work through the bureaucracy that is Washington, D.C., and this year we will be able to take a total of 75 motorcycles (FNGs) in for this wreath laying. We will place a wreath at Section 60, nearest to the area of internment for those lost since the start of the Gulf Wars. Your RCs have the details and will be distributing the necessary-colored bands while on the Run. Note that the limit is seventy-five (75) motorcycles, which means we can bring in a total of 150 people. As in the past, no trikes or trailers are allowed. The RCs have all the details so they can complete their itineraries, but the following times may help you a bit in your planning: Saturday 0700 staging for ANC with a 0805 departure. At 1100 begin assembling at Lincoln Memorial for the 1130 photo. Depart Lincoln Memorial for the 1215 Misson Complete ceremony at the Wall. Sandbox registration will be at the host hotel on Saturday 0900-1015 and again from 1300-1600. We strongly encourage those of you registering in Ontario and riding two routes to register for both at the same time. Our registration teams will remind you to register for both routes to reduce the flow of registrants in D.C. Sandbox route meetings will be starting at 1500 -1800. More to follow in the sequence for those meetings.
The Park Service notified Gail that they will no longer allow bullhorns, loudspeakers, singing or chanting at the Lincoln Memorial. While they appreciate our enthusiasm and patriotism, the volume and ensuing echoes from so many voices may be contributing to the destabilization of the Memorial. We need to police ourselves and respect the wishes of the Park Service; remember we are allowed to gather for the photo as invited guests. Additionally, as in the past couple of years, there will be no parking on the grass around the National Mall area. Violators may have their bikes towed and impounded.
If you are still on the fence and have not yet registered, we ask that you do so as soon as possible. Our State Coordinators are working hard to finalize plans and rely on a pre-Run head count to ensure we can care for everyone’s needs. Our Day Rider registration process kicked in on 1 February, so please visit https://rftw.us/rftw-registration for all of the details.
In past years, we provided a standardized message for you to use when contacting news media, civic organizations, etc., announcing our arrival. Below is that message. I encourage you to copy and paste it into an email and get it out. Let’s work together to notify the nation that we are coming to your community and that We Ride For Those Who Can’t.
Run For The Wall (RFTW), a veteran support organization, will be coming through ENTER LOCATION HERE on ENTER DATE/TIME HERE on our way to ENTER EITHER WASHINGTON D.C. OR MARSEILLES, IL. This is the 34th year RFTW has conducted its mission of promoting healing among all veterans and their families and friends, calling 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 around the world. This mission is supported by thousands of citizens from communities like yours who come out to greet us, who provide donated gas and oftentimes food, and, most importantly, to demonstrate their patriotism and support.
As we work our way across America, whether from California to D.C or D.C. to Marseilles, IL., we visit towns and communities, veteran organizations like the VFW and American Legion, VA Centers and hospitals, schools, Gold Star families, and civic organizations to help spread the word. We need your help to promote the healing of those who have answered our nation’s call; to help remind our legislators that we need the accountability that was promised; and most importantly, we need to NEVER FORGET those who sacrificed all for us.
We cannot continue this mission without your support and assistance in getting the word out! Our motto is “We Ride For Those Who Can’t”. That all-encompassing motto includes Veterans and Patriots from all walks of life – with your help, we can reach more people who may need a personal connection or who wish to show their support.
We would love to have you come out to meet or join us on ENTER DATE AND TIME HERE. We would love to see you as we work our way across this great country of ours. For more information on Run For The Wall, please visit our website at https://rftw.us. If you would like to donate, please visit https://rftw.us/donate. RFTW is a registered 501(c)(3) with a Platinum rating by GuideStar.
We look forward to seeing you!
No one left behind is more than a standard we all live up to. It is a way of life. It is part of our Mission. 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.
Let us remember to keep our focus on the Mission. It is why we ride!
Say Their Names – Tell Their Stories – Never Forget.
Back to Basics. Back to the RFTW Mission.
Is it May yet?
President, RFTW, Inc.
2011- CR FNG
2012 – CR Participant
2013 – CR Staging Team
2014 – 2015 – CR Staging Team Ass’t. Lead
2016-2017 – CR Staging Team Lead
2022 – CR Platoon Coordinator
2023 – CR and Sandbox Road Guard
2020 – Present – RFTW BoD member