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President’s Message – September 2019

The Board of Directors had a busy month dealing with an array of issues that need completing prior to the 2020 RFTW. One of those issues goes on annually during August and September is to read the After-Action reports submitted by our riders. Those reports give us many new views on specific issues that often require changes to our Standard Operations Procedures (SOPs). Moreover, our entire SOPs are reviewed for elimination, modification or addition.

BOD director of operations Doug Lyvere is the lead on these issues and submits all the changes for the board to review. Needless-to-say, Doug is a busy guy and has his hands full for most of the year. After our October meeting the board will vote on the reviewed items both modified and new. All Route Coordinators participate in this process and add suggestions that make this process successful and our mission safer.

During our September meeting we received a monthly briefing from the Route Coordinators reporting that although some leadership positions remain open, most have been filled. There were some reports of location changes so please read your monthly RC messages to learn about these changes. The RC monthly messages are important to read each month because there is not only information about location changes but many other important issues that riders need to know. These messages can be read by clicking on one of the four routes noted on the Route Hub tab of the RFTW website.

Leadership Changes

Prior to these briefings the Board of Directors received a letter of resignation from Sandbox Route Coordinator Marcel “Senior” Miller. The board accepted his resignation and have appointed a new RC for the Sandbox Route. Billie “Bugs” Dunlap was appointed to lead the Sandbox Route for the 2020 RFTW. Billie’s Assistant Route Coordinator will be Ken “Six String” Dugas.

Special thanks to Kirk “Pretty Boy” Olson for many years of service on the BoD. Kirk resigned the BoD Director of Public Relations & Communications position to assume the Central Route Road Guard Captain role. Nick “Rich Boy” Hentges was selected to fill the Director of Public Relations & Communications position for Run For The Wall.

Re: Registration

As you may have noticed there is a new registration form this year. This new form has some additional information that is easy to understand and will assist us in knowing during what conflicts and eras you served (or are serving) your country. We would like to thank you in advance for taking a moment to check the boxes of where you served.

The Sandbox registration will be open on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019. Please take the time to read the new directions as well as the bright red restrictions on certain vehicles.

Reunions

I also have heard some great feedback from folks who attended the Angel Fire reunion in New Mexico and the Midway-sponsored all routes reunion held in Franklin, Tenn. The number of bricks laid at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Angel Fire was astounding and moving and included honoring many Medal of Honor recipients and Navajo Code Talkers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget the Sept. 20-22, 2019 Texas all-routes reunion to be held in Kerrville, Texas. The contact information can be found in the regional events tab on the website. It’s not too late to make it to Kerrville!

Is it May yet?

Respectfully submitted,
Les “Easy” Williams
RFTW BoD President

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President’s Message – August 2019

August has been a very busy month for the RCs and the Board of Directors. The planning process is in full swing for all of the above as well as State Coordinators along all the routes. Our Ontario State Coordinator is very busy with several chores including the start of finding the right hotels in Ontario that can accommodate the many needs RFTW must have to safely complete our mission.

Board members, like many of you, have watched as RFTW has grown over the past few years putting pressure on our current infrastructure on both coasts as well as along each route. Ontario presents special needs in that each route has asked for more and more meeting rooms. With the addition of the Sandbox Route those demands have increased. Other events have also pressured time commitments for those meetings and special events. Honestly, Carol Olmstead and I wish there were more hours in the days we are in Ontario. Since that is not possible and the demands for rooms or special events continue, we will likely start scheduling meetings into the evening hours and perhaps for very early in the mornings.

When the hotels are locked in, we will brief the Route Coordinators about the availability of rooms and times. We will, once again, ask everyone to have your requests or scheduled event in by no later than Jan. 31. It may be possible this year that some meetings will have to be scheduled for the great outdoors. The annual safety meeting will once again be held in Lot D where the route leadership can meet and greet their riders and provide them with the safety briefing of how we ride. The time allocated for this briefing is the longest of any event we have in Ontario and the BOD encourages all route leadership to use it to help new participants become familiar with how we ride safely.

So, while I am on the subject of riding safely, I urge all riders to find a certified motorcycle training group and complete one or two of their riding courses. Annually many of our riders who submit an After-Action Report ask, Why doesn’t RFTW hold training courses before the Run? A simple answer is we are not certified to train folks nor would our liability company be happy with us if we did! The best way to do this is go to a certified training group, take the courses, and then for the rest of the winter/spring practice your new skills. Moreover, for new and returning riders who are not accustom to riding for long miles and days in a group situation, please begin a training program that will get your body and mind in better shape for the 2020 mission. For anyone who is on medication and seeing a physician we urge you to talk about this opportunity with your doctor before arriving at a RFTW departure point. If you are emotionally and physically in shape for this mission, your rewards will be many.

As we approach the end of summer it’s once again Central’s All-Routes Reunion starting on Labor Day weekend in Angel Fire, N.M.—a great place to once again fulfill our mission by honoring those who served. It’s a working weekend but one that’s good for the soul. This year there will also be a Midway All-Routes Reunion also held on Labor Day weekend in Franklin, Tenn. For many years I have heard folks who live in the Eastern U.S. wondering if a reunion would ever be held there. Now’s your chance, folks, and the itinerary looks great. The last reunion of the season, Southern’s All-Routes Reunion will be held in Kerrville, Tex. also with a full itinerary of events. If you have not experienced riding in the Hill Country of Texas, don’t miss this chance. A wonderful long weekend with a great hotel, great food and a chance to renew friendships. Check here for details: https://rftw.us/forums/forum/regional-gatherings

Finally, the BOD, RCs and ARCs had a successful meeting July in Denver. Many thanks to BOD Treasurer Ken and Jenny Ward for all the arrangements. It’s a big job to find reasonable accommodations for these mandatory face-to-face meetings at a cost-effective location, and Ken and Jenny always go above and beyond. Following the Saturday meeting, Ray Brammer introduced the new RFTW belt buckle. Check it out in the store! https://rftw.us/product/run-for-the-wallr-belt-buckle/

Until next time have a great end of summer. Remember the inscription on the tablet behind Abraham Lincoln’s massive statue:

“In this temple / as in the hearts of the people / for whom he saved the union / the memory of Abraham Lincoln / is enshrined forever.” Check this out next time we all sit at President Lincoln’s feet—RFTW 2020

Is it May yet?

Respectfully submitted,
Les “Easy” Williams
RFTW BOD President

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President’s Message – July 2019

June and July have been very busy months with route coordinator selections, collection of data needed to wrap up the 31st Run For The Wall, and the election of a new member of the Board of Directors. The route coordinators for 2020 as voted on and approved: Central Route RC Tom “Boomps” Miller, Midway Route RC Ken “Six String” Dugas, Southern Route RC Bob “Captain America” Nelson and Sandbox Route RC Marcel “Senior” Miller. The new member of the BOD is Jim “Ancient 6” Marshall who is the LEO road guard on the Midway Route. Welcome to everyone and congratulations to all the new RFTW route coordinators.

The RCs will attend the BOD monthly meetings during the 2019-2020 planning year. Each month the they will write a monthly update on the planning progress along with additional items helpful for rider preparation. Moreover, they will post the names and contact information of the route leadership positions after they are all selected. All of this information can be found under the Run Information tab on rftw.us.

Speaking of meetings, the BOD will hold its summer face-to-face meeting in Denver, Colo. July 19-21. This will be one of the busiest meetings I have attended based on the agenda prepared by Chairman Dave Klemme. I have watched over the past three years the growth of RFTW at all levels and with that growth comes additional planning and careful risk management.

The July meeting will deal with issues from Ontario, Calif., to Washington, DC. as reported by senior leadership and the riders who have given us their input via After Action Reports. The BOD members have read all the AARs submitted from all routes while the RC/ARCs have read all the AARs submitted by riders on their routes. I want to thank those who have submitted AARs and remind everyone else there is no time limit on submissions of these reports. I was pleased to see how many writers commented on the increased emphasis on safety on all the 2019 routes. We will continue to review all aspects of safety along our routes which may include changes of locations and time frames—some due to matters law enforcement cooperation in urban areas. With that said I would like to thank those LEOs from states and cities who support us with great enthusiasm.

The California State Police begin by getting us out of Ontario, the New Mexico State Police take us border-to-border, and the Virginia State Police get us into Arlington each year with great courage and skills. To all other LEOs who help RFTW, you have our complete respect and gratitude.

Many of you have heard about a tragic incident that occurred near Gorham, N.H., when members of the Jarhead MC traveling in a group to a charity event were struck by a truck that veered across the centerline and crashed head on into their formation. See memorial service photos at right and below.

That incident was widely reported across the nation’s news media, however, little has been heard since. I would like to post a few pictures in this message of the first funeral of one of those Marines killed.

There is a Go-Fund-Me account created for “Jarheads MC – Victims and Families support.” If you want to make a direct donation the address can also be found on this site.

Thanks to Alan “Cross Country” Silva, Midway Route ambassador, for the pictures and information. Keep these Marines and their families in your prayers.

That’s about it for now so keep tuned for the August message and how the planning process is going for the 2020 RFTW. By then I hope we will have the scoop on the details of the first operational Sandbox Route and how to become part of that mission.

Before I sign off, I would like to thank Capt. Royce Williams USN (ret) for spending the Ontario weekend with RFTW.

He told me he had a great time visiting with all the riders and meeting “America’s veterans.”

Royce said he was impressed with the great welcome he got and the new friends he met.

Moreover, I want to thank CJ Machado for making this visit possible and her unwavering devotion to America’s veterans. You both are always welcome at RFTW events.

Is it May yet?

Respectfully submitted,
Les “Easy” Williams
RFTW BoD President

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President’s Message – April 2019

There are twenty-some days until we go Kick Stands Up in Ontario. I hope your bike and you are ready for this mission. These are exciting days ahead so thank you all for making the 31stAnnual Run For The Wall the mission of your choice. Please ride safely to Ontario and any other route stops you have chosen along the way.

I would like to take a little time to express my appreciation for all the volunteers who make this mission successful – and folks it’s a long list! This year I would like to give a big thank you to all of our State Coordinators along all four routes. Each year these folks work endlessly to support this mission with securing donated fuel, meals, hotels, road information, press releases and fund raisers on the off season. They are absolutely a huge part of our family. Many ride bikes on their routes and continue their service as we progress to Washington. On behalf of the Board of Directors and the Route Coordinators, “Thank You” for all you do.

Since this will be my last message prior to Ontario I want to pass on some information that will benefit everyone who rides with RFTW.

The Gateway Hotel (Host) in Ontario has been one of the most supportive hotels we have ever had. I do not have enough room here to list everything they donate to RFTW so I will just say it is substantial. When you arrive at this hotel you will note that, like last year, there still is construction going on—mainly on the first floor. So, we have agreed to certain stipulations in an effort to work around this construction.

  • Riders who are booked at the Gateway and guests who visit be patient with the employees at the check-in desk.
  • There are limited, if any, first floor guest rooms.
  • The registration rooms and some of the meeting rooms plus the lobby and the restaurant will be open.
  • There will be a buffet dinner on Monday and Tuesday nights for $16, and a buffet lunch on Tuesday for $13.
  • Carol Olmstead, CA State Coordinator, will have a box in the lobby with cards to post notes to go to the Wall.
  • And one last thing, there is no smoking closer that 250 feet from the front doorway. (We talked about parking last month.)

At our April meeting all the Route Coordinators briefed the board that their routes are ready to go. Based on their briefings I think this year’s mission is set to be outstanding with many outreach missions and other programs along the routes. For new participants, these outreach missions range from visiting memorials, VA Hospitals, POW/MIA and Gold Star families and cemeteries. Many FNG’s will be invited to join the platoons that accomplish these missions. The “breakout” platoon or platoons will leave the pack led by RFTW leadership including Ambassadors and Road Guards. Once the mission is complete, you will rejoin the pack either at the rear or at a fuel stop where staging crews will guide you back into the platoons. These missions are important and you will see the honor in participating immediately. “We Ride For Those That Can’t.”

Since the announcement of the Sandbox RECON mission earlier this month RC Miller and his staff have been busy finalizing their mission to complete a reconnaissance of a two- and one-half-day mission from Washington, DC to Marseilles, Ill., at the Middle East Conflicts Memorial Wall. The mission is designed to finalize the route infrastructure so the first operational mission can be conducted in 2020.

The Sandbox Route has been created to honor our brother and sister warriors who have performed courageously even prior to the 1983 bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut to Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and all others in between. Vietnam veterans understand the need for warriors to have a wall where they can honor and remember the sacrifices made by those we lost in battle. It is part of the healing process to know those who were lost will never be forgotten. We get it.

This mission is designed for veterans, active duty and reservists of Middle East Conflicts to be able to go on a short mission that is planned for them beginning on a holiday weekend.

It is a conduit between Vietnam era and Current Conflict veterans, with a place for healing, reflecting and receiving a warm “Welcome Home” so richly deserved.

The recon group will meet with organizations, and will check out hotels, VFW and American Legion facilities and memorials along the way to make a truly fantastic mission in 2020. Invite younger warriors and supporters you know to join us next year.

National Desert Storm/Desert Shield Memorial

Another commitment RFTW has made in 2019 is to donate funds to the National Desert Storm/Desert Shield Memorial planned for Washington, DC. According to their website, the goal of the memorial is to create an educational, meaningful and moving experience for visitors that:

  • Educates them about the historical events of Desert Storm and Desert Shield;
  • Identifies each of the coalition countries that united to liberate Kuwait;
  • Memorializes all the names of Americans who sacrificed their lives in the war;
  • Reflects the unique environmental and battle conditions;
  • Leaves visitors with an enduring memory of the historical significance and accomplishments of Desert Storm and Desert Shield.

The RFTW BoD would like to send a message that RFTW backs all servicemen and women from all wars. In doing so the Black Sheep ministry will be shining boots outside the Gateway Hotel in Ontario and a collection of ‘Nam Marvel comic books—collector edition condition—will be raffled off. The donations from these two events will go to the National Desert Storm/Desert Shield War Memorial Fund. Look for other opportunities to donate along your routes—all Route Commanders have agreed to raise money for this fund.

The Rocking Double M Ranch (Mike “Bandit” and Melanie “Sassy” Huber) Steer Auction

It’s always fun to have Mike “Bandit” Huber on stage and this year will be no different. Bandit will be the auctioneer as Midway Route auctions off two donated steers, Rib-eye and T-bone, with proceeds going to Falcon Children’s Home and Milan, N.M., Elementary School. The auction will take place Monday, May 13 at 5 p.m. in the Gateway Hotel lobby. Check out fliers posted around the lobbies of the Gateway and Holiday Inn for details. Grab a cold one and come join us individually or as a group in an auction team. This will be a lot of fun!

 It’s almost May!

Respectfully submitted,

Les “Easy” Williams
RFTW BoD President

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President’s Message – April 2019

Since my last message where I talked to about Captain Royce Williams’ video documentary, “Forgotten Hero of the Forgotten War,” I have learned he will be visiting our host hotel in Ontario, CA. For those who missed this naval aviator’s heroic story from the Korean War, please check our website homepage where you can find a trailer to this documentary at the bottom of the page. The entire video can be selected from Amazon Prime videos. Capt. Williams will be accompanied by the producer and director of this film along with a bunch of cameras that will be filming his visit. Please stop and visit with Royce—he is a great guy and it’s enjoyable talking to him.

In addition to Royce’s visit we are honored to have Team Rubicon who will be located in the vendor area. This organization is an amazing group dedicated to using our current conflict warrior skills to provide disaster relief wherever needed. Their motto is “Disasters Are Our Business. Veterans Are Our Passion.” Please stop by their vendor booth and see if they could use your skills. They will be helping out during our stay in Ontario and are easy to identify by their team shirts so stop by and say hello. Currently, Team Rubicon is providing flood relief to those affected by Winter Storm Ulmer. Like other great non-profits they depend on donations to keep crews in the field helping American citizens.

2019 Recon Route

This winter the Board of Directors was approached by a group of RFTW riders who briefed us regarding a proposal of how a new route could be created that would benefit our active duty, reservists, National Guard
soldiers and veterans of the desert conflicts. The plan we heard was well organized and provides all the options these warriors need to find the healing and comradery that our riders annually find during our ten-day mission. After listening to the briefing, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to create a fourth RFTW route. This route will be known as the Sandbox Route using the guiding principal of riding “Wall 2 Wall.”

A 2019 reconnaissance route has been created and staffed by leadership from all three current routes. The recon route will depart Washington, DC on Sunday, May 26, 2019, with a mission to establish the fundamental infrastructure necessary to conduct operations with a full route in 2020. The mission is planned for two and a half days, starting in Washington, DC ending at the Middle East Conflicts Wall in Marseilles, Illinois.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like thank the many riders who have worked very hard to make this recon route a reality in 2019. I would especially like to thank the new route coordinator, Marcel “Senior” Miller, Senior Chief USN (Ret.), and Mary “Cupcake” Pittman-Elroy, route architect, for their work and vision.

Rather than continue with more details, I would like to direct you all to the homepage and the new Sandbox Route Hub, which will GO LIVE at 4:00PM Eastern Time TODAY, where you can find Senior’s April RC message and learn more about the Sandbox Route. The Sandbox Route Hub . We wish the Sandbox great success on the recon mission and the ensuing operational missions that will help take RFTW into the next generation.

Getting ready for Ontario

Before I close April’s message, I want to mention a couple of things on behalf of Carol Olmstead, California State Coordinator. Carol is one of the many RFTW volunteers with an unbelievable work ethic. Without our volunteers we would be in big trouble. Carol is the face of RFTW for all the businesses that support us in Ontario.

She has asked that we obey all the parking regulations at each hotel which means park tight and no parking at the front entrance. A hotel’s front entrance is a fire zone and must be kept clear at all hotels.

Please do not ask desk clerks for permission—they do not have the authority to grant anyone the permission to illegally park. When this happens in Ontario, Carol is the first one to hear about these problems from hotel management. Please do not put her in that position, or route coordinators while on the mission.

Is it May yet?

Respectfully submitted,
Les “Easy” Williams, President
Run for the Wall® Board of Directors

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President’s Message – February 2019

This month’s message finds us about 80 days before kick stands up. As we close in on May 15, I am happy to let you know the planning process is in good shape. The Board of Directors and your Route Coordinators and Assistant Route Coordinators met in Denver for our winter planning conference where many plans were finalized. The route itineraries are nearly complete and will be submitted to the publisher in early March and available on the website route hubs the first week of April. These will have the most current information for riders available but keep in mind that Murphy’s Law is always looming over us during this phase. With that said, changes are possible at any time so I urge you to read the Route Coordinators’ monthly messages where they will announce changes and solutions.

We once again are having a mandatory all routes safety meeting in Ontario May 14 at 1500 in Lot D adjacent to the Gateway Hotel. Riders and leadership are expected to attend this meeting where riders can meet their platoon leaders, tail gunners, road guards and senior leadership. This meeting will have an opening ceremony prior to the briefing then each route will head to their designated area. The safety briefing not only will allow you to meet each other but brief you on how we ride and the safety measures needed to ensure a safe and orderly movement across the nation. You will learn the rules used by RFTW and if you have any questions do not be afraid to get them answered. We have allotted three hours for this safety briefing. The BOD received great feedback from nearly everyone last year regarding this briefing, and that is why we are doing it again—to increase the focus on safety for the 31st annual Run For The Wall.

I also want to let everyone know that the 2019 merchandise is on the web store and available. The new shirts are very nice and merchandise BOD Ray Brammer has some hi viz sweatshirts available at a very low price. Take a look before they disappear or he runs out of your size. The new RFTW pins are also on sale with an array of other 2019 gear.

The Benevolence Fund awards were presented for approval as is normal during the winter meeting. All of the applications submitted by riders were approved which will give those veterans a hand up for their FNG year. Awards for several veteran organizations also were made that will assist many in meeting veteran needs. A group known as Homes For Our Troops which builds adaptive homes for severely wounded warriors was made as they continued to build homes in over 42 states – many in our RFTW rider communities. If you would like to learn about them, you can find them at www.hfotusa.org. Awards also were approved for Combat Hero’s Bike Build, David Westphall Veterans Foundation (Angel Fire), Welcome Home Alliance For Veterans and US Veterans Motorcycle Club for scholarships for veteran children.

If you would like to donate to the Benevolence Fund, please note on your check or credit card memo line “Benevolence Fund.”

In the everyday business of RFTW I often learn of important efforts on behalf of veterans and what they have contributed to the freedom of our nation. Recently, I learned of an effort on behalf of a Korean War Navy fighter by the name of Captain Royce Williams USN (ret) to upgrade his Silver Star to a Medal of Honor. 

The entire objective of the campaign fits perfectly with our mission: “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.” Since I learned of this mission to honor Capt. Williams, I felt it important to lend our voice to this campaign. He was involved during the Korean War on a mission where he shot down four Russian Mig-15’s—a feat never accomplished before or since.

Due to an unknown top-secret operation, his heroics were kept secret for 53 years. Royce was awarded the Silver Star for shooting down one Mig-15 so the Russians would not know what really happened. Capt. Williams is now 92 years young and the efforts to ensure an upgrade are being pursued. Recently a group of folks in San Diego who are expert documentary film makers have made Run For The Wall a custom trailer video that will introduce the video which will fully outlines the details of this heroic flight, “Forgotten Hero – Forgotten War.” See the trailer below, and this  link that will then take you to the full video.  The video is streamed on Amazon Prime.   Searching  “Forgotten Hero”, from your TV on Amazon Prime also works.  Each click on the film will greatly assist the effort to upgrade this hero’s award to a Medal of Honor.

I want to thank two film makers, CJ Machado of Love Amazingly Productions and Mark Vizcarra at Speed Angels Productions, who made this all possible along with their donors. Also, a big thank you to the docents and museum staff of the USS Midway for their efforts to make this all possible. If you have not been to the Midway (home ported in San Diego) for a tour, put that on your list. It is well worth your time.

In photo above right, Capt. Royce Williams pictured with an F9 Panther.
Above left, docents, staff and film crew aboard the USS Midway. Photos used by permission.

Respectfully submitted,
Les “Easy” Williams, President
Run for The Wall Board of Directors


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President’s Message – January 2019

As of this writing it is 120 days until we begin our 2019 Run For The Wall®. The Board of Directors and Route Coordinators have been diligently planning for this year’s mission and events that have been meaningful to not only our riders but to the patriot citizens across America. This process will be 99% complete by mid-March. The other 1% is everything else that occurs from March 15 – May 14.

Now, the question is: Are you, staff and riders, all ready for this journey? If you will be a New Participant,” have you read the information found under the RFTW website tab of the same title? If not, I urge you to read the “Ten Days in May” story from a former new participant, then review the FAQ section co-located with this article. Although the original “10 Days” story is based on a Central Route experience, much holds true for all three routes.

If you have questions after reading this information, seek out an experienced rider or call me.

Why we ride

This ten-day mission is an amazing journey that often is quoted as a “life saving mission for me and my family,” “the best 10 days I have experienced since leaving the service,” “I have watched RFTW pass by in their inspirational mile-long parade in years past here in Cookeville but this year I was in position to meet your riders. I served in Vietnam and when I met them, they hugged me and thanked me for my service. They treated me like a brother – it moved me to tears. Thank You.” These comments are just a snapshot of the hundreds of comments I receive from riders and citizens. You will hear these comments every day while on the Run and when it is over you will join this chorus of amazing quotes.

The photo above is of Midway photographer- Ken Munro, and Midway LEO Liaison- Steve Rank, with RFTW supporter Amanda and her girls in Cookeville, TN. Amanda is a Gold Star daughter and she tracked Ken down through RFTW’s website then later visited Ken’s Facebook page. She wrote a four-page letter prior to the 2018 Run, then a note after the Run. 🙂 (See accompanying letters below.) Just a small picture of how RFTW affects citizens across America.

Download (PDF, 431KB)

Download (PDF, 48KB)

What we do

I am often asked by riders how much money does RFTW donate during each run since we are a 501c (3) corporation?  This is a fair question so the BOD treasurer, Ken “Catfish” Ward, has supplied the answers.

These figures reflect both RFTW and rider donations during the 2018 RFTW.

Total donations: $82,446.80.

These donations were to schools along all three routes, Hurricane Harvey Relief (Houston) and Benevolence Fund awards. Congratulations, RFTW riders, you have created hope for many veterans and American citizens of all ages.

Just a quick note before I conclude

I want to mention that our registration as of mid-January has exceeded the numbers recorded last year at this time. I want to thank Diann “Mojo” McKee, RFTW BOD risk manager, for compiling these stats that can be found in detail on our Facebook page. These numbers are a big safety factor for everyone’s planning process. With that said, please register online as soon as possible so our Route Coordinators can staff their routes appropriately. And join me in getting our rides and ourselves ready for the Run. Everyone is welcome.

Is it May yet?

Respectfully submitted,

Les “Easy” Williams, President
Run for The Wall® Board of Directors

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President’s Message – November – December 2018

The Board of Directors and I want to wish you all a joy-filled Thanksgiving—along with your families and friends. I can tell you the board is especially thankful this year as we approach the holiday.

We are thankful that RFTW can continue for another year.

A 2018 surprise occurred in October when we learned we lost our American Motorcycle Association (AMA) affiliation, support, and liability insurance. The cited reasons were the extended nature of the event and loss experiences. (That’s a politically correct term for too many lawsuits.) The “loss experiences” included a 2012 accident where RFTW had no culpability other than we had the deeper pockets, and following the summer of the 2018 RFTW, we were informed of another pending suit in which RFTW, once again, had no responsibility. The 2018 incident appears to be the straw that broke the camel’s back of the insurance company, resulting in RFTW becoming uninsurable.

So, with that said, I would like to say that veterans suing veterans has consequences,  especially when these veterans all signed a lawful contract with RFTW to be responsible for their own actions (release of liability form). Once insurance companies make settlements to prevent the high cost of a court case, the integrity of the corporation is diminished to a point where RFTW is uninsurable. Folks, that is where we have been for nearly two months, putting the 2019 RFTW in great jeopardy.

During the two months of being uninsured, the board looked into options for the 2019 RFTW that would keep the corporation and the routes operating. The search for insurance continued during this time along with brainstorming new options. The options brought forward were flawed—we were having trouble visualizing how to keep the entire mission intact. Our despair over this issue was suddenly ended when an insurance company stepped-up and agreed to insure RFTW for 2019.

We are very pleased with this outcome, but we move forward with a great deal of trepidation knowing that one more lawsuit will, in all likelihood, end Run For The Wall, Inc. The number of insurance companies willing to take on the extended nature of the RFTW motorcycle mission are extremely limited.

The entire Board of Directors worked hard and professionally to keep RFTW alive in order to support all veterans, POW/MIA and active duty military. Most notably BoD risk manager Diann McKee and John McKee worked tirelessly to gain RFTW the current policy.

In the coming months there will be changes that will make our 30-year success story even more successful and safer. We will be seeking from all our riders your voluntary compliance with this focus on safety and adherence to Standard Operating Procedures. With that said, I want to say thank you to the 99.99999% of veterans and supporters who have honored their release of liability contract with RFTW. Your character and integrity are duly noted.

And now my Christmas message –

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah to all RFTW riders present, past and future. We all have many blessings this holiday season—like a free country with a strong Constitution that keeps the rule of law safe. Many fought and died for these gifts and have made it a season of happiness, remembrance and freedom to worship in the church we choose. Many military deployments have shown our veterans that our story is not universal, hence our love of freedom runs high. This year my hope is you are able to spend time with your family and friends, that is what Christmas is all about.

While you are celebrating these gifts, please take time to remember our Missing in Action, Killed in Action, Gold Star Families, and our brothers and sisters in the desert who are and will be in harm’s way this Christmas season.

And, while you are shopping remember that you can select Run for The Wall, as your charity on Amazon Smile. It is easy to set up the account and Amazon returns a percentage of their profit to RFTW. According to BoD treasurer Ken Ward, this simple way to donate has been a big help for our mission. Just go to smile.amazon.com. Of course, you can always donate through the RFTW website at rftw.us or Ken will take a check (he dislikes credit card fees). RFTW is a 501(c)3 tax deductible organization.

Please remember to register for the 2019 RFTW online. Your Route Coordinators are working hard to make 2109 a memorable mission so help them out with early registration. It assists them in planning for platoon staff and other logistical issues. Just a quick reminder: You can register online and you don’t have to pay until you pick up your package on the Run. If you choose to pay at that time, this also helps our treasurer and the registration fee is only $30. If you are a “walk in” at any stopover, it will cost you $50 to register. If you are uncomfortable using a computer find a friend who will help you out.

Our BoD merchandise director, Ray Brammer, wants you all to know he has some very good deals on his online store for Christmas gifts of all kinds. He has ordered some kid’s shirts with RFTW on them by popular demand so check them out. Most of us won’t fit into a size 4 so buy them for your kids or grandkids. The price is right and he has a good stock but not a ton so get them while they last.

Remember, too, our Benevolence Fund application due date is Dec. 31 so if you are thinking about submitting an application (from the website) you may want to get that started.

Now, a final comment to remind anyone who wants to have a special meeting or presentation while in Ontario. We must have the information and approval completed no later than April 1,2019 (no kidding). If your event will be complex, please send that request to me at les.williams@rftw.us no later than Jan. 31,2019. Please keep in mind we have very limited time and space at the host hotel. If you request an event that will take one hour, that is what you may be booked for and no more.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah. Have a blessed holiday season, everyone!

Respectfully,

Les “Easy” Williams
President
Run for The Wall Board of Directors

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President’s Message – October 2018

The Board of Directors meeting in September can be summarized as routine business with nothing sensational occurring! September always seems to be a month when our route coordinators are busy filling positions and working on ideas of how to buy more time during fuel stops for riders to use bathrooms and hydrate. They are making every effort to provide that time so please remember that our route schedules are planned so we arrive and depart on time to meet obligations to citizens who are supporting us. Once again please keep up by reading your RC’s monthly messages on the www.rftw.us website.

Online registration has recorded 156 riders since its August opening. I am, again, asking that if you are planning to go on the 2019 RFTW, please register as early as possible. Last month I mentioned that you can register online then pay when you pick up your packet wherever you join us. As a reminder: Remember to bring your CURRENT driver’s license, registration AND insurance cards with you when you pick up your packet. It is mandatory to show those items to the registration volunteers when you pick up your packets—no exceptions.

For those of you who are thinking about joining our mission in 2019 and those who have not been on the website for a while, I encourage you to check out the new tab titled “New Participants.” Inside is the diary of a new participant titled, “Ten Days in May.” It is an excellent article for any new participants seeking to learn more about Run For The Wall. The tab also has a new FAQ that answers a full array of questions. Just go to: https://rftw.us/10-days-in-may

Also, as promised, from the RFTW Sustainability Committee, there is a NEW Poster and Talking Points document on the website.  Please use these resources to promote Run for The Wall. Our riders are our best recruiters and advocates. Go to: Resources for Promoting RFTW, under the Scuttlebutt tab.

During September many riders attended the Kerrville, Tex., All Routes Reunion. Many board members have told me they had a lot of fun and enjoyed the weekend. Thanks to everyone who planned this event which annually ends the reunion season.

That same weekend RFTW also was invited to the annual celebration of the signing of the US Constitution in Grand Lake, Colo.

This celebration is a week-long event that features noted constitutional scholars every night in one of Grand Lakes many restaurants.

Left, Grand Lake and Granby Fire Departments hoist a Garrison flag over Main St. at the end of the parade route.

At week’s end there is a parade, concert series, and more celebration of this historic document. New to GLUSCW this year was a barbecue cookoff—great eats! The event board president Tom Goodfellow said they hope to make that bigger and better next year.

We got an opportunity to talk about RFTW to many citizens in attendance who were interested in our mission. The Combat Heroes Bike Build also was there, represented by Ray “Cornman” Cornmesser and friend, Michele (see photo at right).

Since we swore to “support and defend” the US Constitution when we joined the military and during promotion ceremonies, I highly recommend this Constitution week celebration.

Is it May yet?

Respectfully submitted,
Les “Easy” Williams
RFTW BOD President

 

 

At left, view from parade start. Lots of barbecue vendor booths on both sides of Main St.!

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President’s Message – September 2018

The Board of Directors met in early August and were briefed by the Route Coordinators on how the planning process was proceeding. Most of the leadership positions have been filled, but the process is still not complete. Midway Route had five vacancies in State Coordinator positions at that time, however all of these positions have now been filled, and all are busy with planning for RFTW 2019. Midway also briefed several changes to their itinerary in Arizona (Kingman) and North Carolina (Fayetteville).  Details of these changes are being worked out and will be published by Midway RC Glenn “Wombat” Waggoner in a future Midway RC message.  RC messages are published monthly on the website under the Run Information tab.

Another issue discussed was the large number (320) of “walk-in” registrations from all three routes in 2018. That amounts to 16 platoons we had no information on for planning purposes. In this case information does equal safety. Moreover, the manhours to enter these 320 handwritten registrations into the database takes weeks given hard-to-read handwriting, forms that were rained on while written on a tailgate of a pickup, and phone calls to straighten out unreadable blocks of information. The BOD, and the Risk Manager in particular, want everyone to know that when you register online you do not have to make the $30 payment. You can wait to pay when you pick up your packet at whatever location you join RFTW.

The BOD announced that beginning with the 2019 RFTW, any walk-in riders who have not pre-registered online will be required to pay a $50 fee, if they register as a walk-in, and not online.

During the past few months the RCs and BOD have been working on an array of improvements mentioned in after-action reports. One project that should resolve the problem of FNGs not having enough information prior to the runs is a newly created FNG diary titled, “Ten Days in May.” This covers a generic FNG from Ontario to Washington riding on the Central Route. This information and other FNG-related information will soon be found on the home page under a new tab titled, “FNG Data.” The Board of Directors has asked the Midway and Southern Route Coordinators to find a volunteer to write a similar diary that contains the culture of their respective routes. We hope this will give FNGs a chance to learn how each route finds “the path home” and the reason we use the phrase, “One Mission, Three Routes.”

Since our riders are our best recruiters, they continue to ask for advertisements to assist their efforts. Since newspaper and magazine advertising are beyond our budget, we created our own advertising poster so they can spread the RFTW story and leave posters at motorcycle dealerships, Legion/VFWs, and other service organizations. That project is also complete and the flier will be downloadable under the new FNG tab and the “About” tab. The poster is designed to be read quickly and encourages the reader to visit our website. Technical work on the website is underway for this project and should be ready for use in the coming week.

The annual RFTW all-routes reunion at Angel Fire was held over the Labor Day weekend. The weather was perfect through out the weekend and allowed for a mission complete at the Angel Fire Veterans Memorial. As you may know this is a working weekend with riders laying a record number of (581) memorial bricks by days end Saturday. The planning and coordination for this mission is amazing and congratulations to the vast number who participated and organized the weekend, an effort headed by Steve Berniklau.  Thanks to Alfredo Gomez for organizing visits to two Native American schools prior to visiting the Angel Fire Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Don’t forget the Kerrville, TX, all-routes reunion Sept. 21-22. For information logon to rftw.us and this thread under the Announcements tab: https://rftw.us/forums/topic/tx-reunion-2018-for-all-rftw-riders/.

Sept. 21 is National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

“To promote healing among ALL veterans and their families and friends, to call for and 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.”

Is it May yet?

Les “Easy” Williams
President
Run For The Wall Board of Directors