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Holiday Greetings from Run for the Wall + Update on RFTW 2022

Happy Holidays

December 12, 2021

Dear Fellow Riders and Friends,

Greetings from beautiful Colorado. I’d like to take the opportunity to wish everybody in our RFTW family joyous holidays, good health, and a blessed New Year.

Many of us on the Board of Directors have received inquiries from anxious riders about the status of Run for the Wall XXXII in 2022. Apparently, rumors are running rampant, so please let me set the record straight.

We are proceeding on the assumption that we will conduct our Run in May as we always have… from Southern California to Washington, D.C. by three routes, and from D.C. to Marseilles, IL via the Sandbox Route. The Route Coordinators of all four routes, along with their respective State Coordinators, are hard at work getting their plans and logistical support in place as usual. As in previous years, we plan to publish the hotel list on January 1st, and registration for RFTW XXXII is up and running now.

The “rumor mill” always seems to take on a life of its own, but factual information is literally at your fingertips. Our website ( rftw.us ) has all the current information. If there are any changes to our planned Run, you will find it there first. Also, your individual Route Coordinators are putting out their newsletters on a frequent basis. I urge you to rely on these sources for your information… it isn’t “official” unless you read it there.

Take care and be well. Is it May yet?

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

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Homes For Our Troops Community Kickoff Ceremony

HFOT Logo

Friends and Fellow Riders…

On behalf of Run For The Wall, in partnership with Operation Family Fund, I wanted to provide an update to everyone regarding the first of several ceremonies through which our recent contribution to Homes For Our Troops will be made. The first recipient will be Marine LCpl Ret. Kevin Honaker. The “Community Kickoff” ceremony for his new home will be in Sparta, Tennessee, on October 23rd.

I encourage each of you, as part of the RFTW Family, to consider participating in this event. We will be welcoming our fellow veteran motorcycle groups… American Legion Riders, Combat Veterans MA, Christian Riders and Patriot Guard Riders… to join us for this very special event.

Hotel accommodations are available in Cookeville, TN, for both the 22nd and 23rd. You must make your own reservations. Be sure to ask for the “Run For The Wall Block.” The hotel information is listed below.

REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT

We ask that all participants fill out this form so that we will have an accurate head count for meals, and to determine the number of bikes that will ride into Sparta on the 23rd.

Hotel block is open and available for Friday and Saturday.
Cookeville, TN (22 & 23 October 2021)
Country Inn & Suites
1151 S. Jefferson Ave., Cookeville, TN 38506
Reservation Number: 1-931-525-6668
Group Rate $85.00
Group Name: “Run-For-The-Wall Block”

Itinerary

Friday, 22 October

  • 1500 – 1700 Lobby Sign-In (Country Inn & Suites, 1151 S Jefferson Ave, Cookeville, TN)
  • 1740 – 1755 Rider Meeting Hotel Parking Lot
  • 1755 – 1805 Move to Dinner Logan Roadhouse
  • 1805 – Dinner (Pay As You Go) On Your Own back to Hotel!

Saturday, 23 October

  • 0630 – 0815 Hot Breakfast @ Hotel (Check-out)
  • 0815 – 0845 Theater Parking Lot next to the host hotel (1181 S Jefferson Ave, Cookeville, TN)
  • 0835 – 0845 Rider Meeting
  • 0850 – 0915 Staging to Sparta (15 S. Church St, Sparta, TN 38583)
  • 0930 – 1200 Kick-Off (Christpoint Church,13 Liberty Square)
  • 1200 – 1300 Lunch on the Grounds (End Of Mission)
  • 1315 – 1335 On Your Own Anytime After Ceremony!
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Save The Date

Homes for our Troops

Greetings from Colorful Colorado.

On October 23rd, Run For The Wall in partnership with Operation Family Fund, will participate in the first of several ceremonies through which our recent contribution to Homes For Our Troops will come to fruition.

Our first recipient will be Marine L/Cpl Kevin Honaker. His home will be built in Sparta, Tennessee. The first event in this process will be the Community Kickoff.  Since Run For The Wall and Operation Family Fund will have significant roles in this event, we would like to have a strong RFTW presence.  To that end, Ron “Sky” King, our Director of Risk Management, is taking the lead in coordinating our participation.  Here is a tentative schedule of events… we will have more information as it becomes available:

  • We will gather on Friday, Oct. 22nd, in Cookeville, TN for a meal to be paid by the attendee(s), and fellowship. Cost to be determined, but should be in the +/- $15.00 range.
  • Hotels will be in Cookeville. Information for making reservations will be posted separately.
  • We will need a headcount for the meal and money to be paid NLT Friday, 10/15/21. Once we determine the final cost of the meal, payment will be made to our Treasurer, Jenny “Lady Jen” Ward. She will provide information on the process.
  • We will ride as a group from Cookeville to Sparta on Saturday, Oct. 23rd, for the Community Kickoff presentation.

This our 2021 mission at work, helping to provide homes specially built and adapted to the needs of severely wounded current conflict veterans. When we speak of “promoting healing among ALL veterans, and their families and friends,” this is it! I hope to see a huge RFTW turnout. See you there!

Respectfully,

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

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Immediate Opening on the RFTW Board of Directors

Greetings from the foot of the Rockies in beautiful Colorado!

Joe “Java Joe” Bookataub, our Director of Purchasing, has tendered his resignation from the RFTW Board of Directors because of personal/family issues. He didn’t feel that his circumstances would leave him the time to carry out his responsibilities properly. I respect his decision and all of us on the Board wish him well.

This leaves us with the need to recruit a replacement to complete Joe’s term which runs through June of 2024.  As the title implies, the Purchasing Director is responsible for acquiring all items necessary to conduct the Run every year. These include hats, windshield banners, placards, sleeves/brassards, plaques, certificates, etc.  This position also works closely with the route Quartermasters to ensure that durable items, such as sleeves/brassards, Road Guard radios, and the like, are returned, accounted for, and stored for use in subsequent years. Of course, the overarching responsibility is to work closely with the other members of the Board to provide guidance and direction for Run For The Wall® Inc.

If you’re looking to “give something back,” and possess both the experience and attention to detail necessary for this position, send a resume and cover letter highlighting your qualifications to our Vice President & Chairman, Jim Marshall, at jim.marshall@rftw.us .  Please include your history with RFTW, including any service or leadership positions you have held.

At one time or another, all of us have thought to ourselves, “If I was running this lash up…” Well, now’s your chance! Remember, decisions are made by those who step up.

Respectfully,

Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme
President, RFTW Board of Directors

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Presidents Message – September 10, 2021

Friends and Fellow RFTW Riders…

Today is September 10th. Tomorrow marks the 20th Anniversary of one of the darkest days in our nation’s history. While we pause to reflect on the events of that tragic day and remember those who were lost, let us also remember the nation’s transformation on 9/12, when we put aside our differences and truly became one people united in a common cause.

In keeping with that theme, Run For The Wall® will open registration for RFTW XXXII on September 11th at 08:46 EDT, the exact moment American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Because we cleared all previous registrations for the past two years, everyone who plans to make the Run in 2022 must register anew.  When you log on to do so, you will find that the registration process has been greatly streamlined.  Thanks to the hard work of Ron “Sky” King, our Director of Risk Management, and Ted “Boots” Kapner, our Director of Public Relations and Media Communications, the process has been greatly simplified and will be entirely “paperless.” Please be aware that after you complete the payment process for your registration, you will need to return to the registration page and complete the waiver of liability before you exit the site. Your registration cannot be completed without this step.

This leads us to what I am sure is the most pressing question on all of your minds: Will we be able to conduct the Run next May?  Let me assure you that the Board of Directors is absolutely committed to carrying out our mission in 2022. Planning for all of our routes has been underway since before our Face-To-Face meeting in July, and will continue as usual in the months leading up to next May.

Having said that, we must all recognize that COVID-19 presents many factors that are beyond our control, and we have no way of knowing what conditions may exist across the country when the time comes. One of the core principles Run For The Wall® has always embraced is that we respect and abide by the laws and customs of the states and communities through which we ride, and we have a responsibility to follow that principle when it comes to COVID restrictions.  In the event that circumstances again work against us, the BoD has asked all of our Route Coordinators to prepare contingency plans for alternative activities. They will be presenting these plans to the Board at our November meeting.

In other news, Central Route held their reunion and service project at the New Mexico Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Angel Fire over the Labor Day weekend. I was fortunate to be able to attend and the turnout was fantastic. The David Westphal Foundation raises money for the Memorial through the sale of bricks that commemorate the service of veterans, both past and present. These bricks line the sidewalks of the memorial, and each year Central Route riders emplace that year’s collection. Because the event could not be held last year, there were two years’ worth of bricks this year… over 850 of them! But in true RFTW fashion, our riders got the mission accomplished for another year, and in record time.

Finally, I’m happy to report that our fundraiser to benefit Homes For Our Troops was a complete success. We met our goal of raising $25,000 from our ridership, thanks to the generosity of so many of you.  That amount was matched by the RFTW Board of Directors for a total of $50,000, which was in turn matched dollar-for-dollar by the Operation Family Fund, a non-profit foundation dedicated to helping veterans of our current conflicts.  On August 28th, Homes For Our Troops received a check from “Run For The Wall® in partnership with Operation Family Fund,” for $100,000!  In the coming months, we will be working closely with HFOT to ensure that RFTW/OFF have a presence at the presentation ceremonies for several veterans receiving homes funded in part by this donation.

Is it May, yet?

Respectfully,

Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme
President
RFTW Board of Directors

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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