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Homes For Our Troops Fundraising Update

Dear Riders and Friends,

As you know, Run For The Wall has been conducting a fundraiser the last few months to support Homes For Our Troops. This organization provides, free of charge, homes specially adapted to the needs of severely wounded veterans. The Board of Directors felt that this would be an appropriate and worthwhile way to carry out our mission this year, even though we were unable to complete our Run due to COVID-19 restrictions. Our goal was to raise $25,000 in donations from our ridership, and others who who support our cause and mission. The Board committed to matching those donations on a dollar-for-dollar basis with unused funds from the previous two years’ registrations, up to a total of $50,000. That amount will, in turn, be matched by another foundation for a total of $100,000 to be donated to HFOT in Run For The Wall’s name.

As of July 12th, we had raised $11,225. I am delighted to report that yesterday, July 13th, our Treasurer, Jenny Ward, received a check from a donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, in the amount of $13,000! In the accompanying letter, this incredibly generous person simply said, “The reason for this donation (is) two-fold: We’d like to see that RFTW is responsible for giving $100k toward a home or homes. The PR, hopefully, will show the country that we’re still serious about our mission — the Vets. And we feel that the BOD should do something benevolent with the registration monies from two years …”

This puts us $775 away from our goal, and we have already received assurances from several folks that this shortfall will be covered.

Miracles still happen!

Respectfully,

Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme
President, RFTW Board of Directors
“Freedom Isn’t Free”

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President’s Message May 2021

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

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.

Respectfully Submitted,
Les “Easy” Williams
RFTW BOD President

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President’s Message May 2021

President’s Message:

IT’S MAY!!!

With Memorial Day weekend coming in a few weeks, I am saddened that we cannot take our “One Mission – Four Routes” into Washington and collectively honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. I think I know you all will do your duty this Memorial Day to pay your respects – whether it’s in Washington, DC or in the thousands of cities and towns across America. I wish the very best for you all in this endeavor because patriotism and mission is enduring with our riders.

While you engage in ceremonies this month keep our mission close to your hearts:

“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.”

And travel safely….

Homes For Our Troops donations

Last month I mentioned that I would send out an early message to report on the Home For Our Troops fundraiser. Here it is:

The first month’s donation totals were very impressive and thank you to everyone who has participated so far. During April $3,700 was donated via direct mail to our treasurer Ken Ward. Additionally, $3,240 was donated through the Facebook campaign with an additional $665 through May 9th. Finally, there is a GE Matching donation for $100 that will be received in August. So, the total is now $7,705. When the home we sponsor is finished, we will be invited to the opening. I hope we have a large response from our riders for this event.

 

Congratulations on a great first month of this mission. We have reached 31 percent of the $25,000 goal! Already during this new donation month, I have been told by riders who schedule monthly RFTW breakfast/lunch groups that they have been passing around a hat as a way of aiding this great mission. To learn more about Homes For Our Troops and why we chose this mission, click on the video here.

At the end of last month, you may have noticed, the Facebook fundraiser totals disappeared and another appeared anew with a lower amount of donations at the end of April. It seems Facebook only allows these fundraisers to run for a month at a time. So, our communications director Nick Hentges simply posted another fundraiser that started at zero dollars for our second month. One reaction to this was disrespectful and disappointing as he opined, without the slightest idea of what he was talking about, that something nefarious was going on. As you all know, the rftw.us website has the phone numbers and email addresses of all board members, including this writer. Please feel free to call me or others with any questions before throwing firebombs on Facebook.

On another note…

Gary “Shepherd” Burd and M-25 has a planned mission (4CPR) to pray for this nation this summer starting in Blaine, Wash., on June 27 and traveling to the four corners of the Continental U.S., ending in the center of the nation in Lebanon, Kan. on July 22. The mission will run approximately 8,700 miles and details can be found in YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqX1Bw0tP2s. Riders are invited to go all the way or pick up one or more legs. Shepherd can be reached at mailto:gburd@arn.net for further details and itinerary.

New BOD members and positions

Last night the BOD voted on new members and position changes.

Here are the results:

  • Dave Klemme, President
  • Jim Marshall, Chairman
  • Nick Hentges, Secretary
  • Jenny Ward, Treasurer
  • Ron King, Risk Management
  • Bill Clark, Merchandise
  • Ted Kapner, Public Relations/Communications
  • Joe Bookataub, Purchasing

John Staub will remain as director of operations.

One Mission – Four Routes.

Respectfully Submitted,
Les “Easy” Williams
RFTW BOD President

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President’s Message April 2021

President’s Message:

New Info!

Here it is nearly the end of April and here in Western Colorado we haven’t seen too much rain so I guess the flowers will suffer in May. It’s been a very dry year for us and a snowy winter on the Front Range of Colorado. Thankfully it has snowed in the San Juan Mountains which will provide our farmers with ample irrigation water to grow their crops.

DDry weather has its upside in that we have been riding for over two months now. I ride with the American Legion Riders Post 73 in Montrose, Colo. We have made our theme for this year to bring continued awareness to the 22 a Day movement, helping to prevent the loss of veterans and active-duty military to suicide. Each of our rides support the 22 a Day theme with patches given to those who ride with us in support of this important mission – a mission many at RFTW share. 

HI VIZ LS BACK

Many of the ALR riders have purchased the new RFTW 22 long-sleeve shirts that fit perfectly with our mission. Ray Brammer, the RFTW merchandise director, designed the shirts and has them for sale in the RFTW store in long sleeve and short sleeve styles. Run For The Wall is developing a new patch in support of this mission which will be available in the store soon. Remember, 100 percent of the money RFTW raises goes toward bringing awareness to veteran and active-duty military issues.

I would be remiss to leave out Angie Uhler and Ed Holterman who have been advocates for this important mission to end veteran/military suicides. There are thousands of other products available on the Internet public domain supporting this cause. Thanks to all for stepping up to educate our citizens in the effort to end these deaths.

As we approach our first month of fund raising to help Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) build a home for a severely injured veteran, I want to thank those who have participated and encourage everyone to continue to help us reach our goal of $25,000. The $25,000 we raise will be matched by an additional $25,000, then that $50,000 will be matched by another foundation for a total of $100,000.

You may say this is a lofty goal and you would be correct but how many other veteran groups do you know who accomplish what Run For The Wall does?  Most of you have seen what these homes do for severely wounded veteran and family and because of that our riders and supporters have donated $5,300 or 21 percent of our goal as of April 25.

As you may know there are three pathways to donate to this worthy cause. Any one will work and riders and supporters have been using all three:

  1. rftw.us Donate button
  2. Checks mailed to RFTW Treasurer Ken “Catfish” Ward, 675-N Deis Drive, Unit #266, Fairfield, Ohio 45014
  3. Donations made through the RFTW Facebook fundraiser

The numbers I mentioned above are from the Facebook Fundraiser and the mail-in donations sent to Treasurer Ken “Catfish” Ward with HFOT in the memo line. Remember to make a notation on your check or RFTW Donation online that you want the money to go to Homes For Our Troops. We are looking at the donations already made to ensure they are going where you want. If you donated already but did not make a note on it for HFOT, drop Ken Ward an email.

I hope to have all the pathway donations for you next month. For now, I just want to say how impressed I am with you all for your generosity and devotion to our troops who are in need. With this effort I recalled vividly the money raised to help the folks of Houston, Texas after Hurricane Harvey destroyed thousands of homes. Moreover, the memories of an RFTW-wide effort to help buy winter clothing for the children of Rainelle, West Virginia, after a disastrous 500-year flood come to mind.

Then there are the memories from all the years of route donations given to needy school children along the way – help they need to succeed. Run For The Wall riders and supporters love America and her citizens.

And who could forget the help following the tornado in the Cookeville, Tenn., area. Midway Route Tennessee assistant state coordinator Ed Butler said he was honored to represent RFTW at a special recognition of our support earlier this month.

Then there are the memories from all the years of route donations given to needy school children along the way – help they need to succeed. Run For The Wall riders and supporters love America and her citizens.

I am humbled by all you do to help where you can and the gifts you bring to Run For The Wall. My sincere gratitude goes out to you all.

Respectfully Submitted,
Les “Easy” Williams
RFTW BOD President

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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 (www.hfotusa.org) 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 diann.mckee@rftw.us or https://rftw.us/contact/ 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.

OBITUARY FOR DON MORRIS – United States Army

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:  https://rftw.us/forums/topic/seeking-applicants-for-director-of-risk-management-registration-2021/   If you are qualified  please send a resume to Diann McKee at diann.mckee@rftw.us.

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