Happy New Year!!!
I hope your new year is off to a healthy, happy beginning.
The new year is a time for reflection, and planning. As I was mentally preparing for the new year, I had been pondering my role as Southern Route Coordinator. It’s easy to get bogged down in the logistics, nuts and bolts of the run and to lose sight of the mission and why I joined Run for the Wall in the first place and why veterans return to the run year after year.
My pondering was brought home to me on New Year’s Eve and brought clarity to my thoughts and mission. Doc and I were attending a party at our neighbor’s home who is also a biker and owns a motorcycle merchandise shop in town. Consequently, the other attendees at the party were predominantly bikers. Well into the evening, I looked over and saw a man looking through the book Run for the Wall – A Journey to the Vietnam Memorial. I went and sat next to him and we began to talk.
Jerry, a veteran and a biker had heard of the Run but didn’t know much about it. What a golden opportunity for me to share my passion, and commitment to the ten-day motorcycle ride across the country, escorting veterans on the healing ride of a lifetime. Jerry had tears in his eyes as he reviewed the pictures of patriotic Americans greeting veterans all across the country. Needless to say, Jerry signed up to ride with us in 2023.
This experience with Jerry was just what I needed to boldly enter 2023 and the final preparations for this year’s Run. I hope everyone in leadership has similar opportunities to share the Run with others and to pause and remember the 1,581 still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has compiled profiles of many of the MIA, please read and remember, this is why we ride.
The Board has recently created many tools to use to share the run. You can access flyers, business card templates, brochures and talking points. These are great tools to help all of us 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. Romeo Tango Mike
Another newly added item to the website is the interactive Southern Route Map and Stops. Wow, it already has 2,857 views! The map provides a day by day list and map of each stop, highway and exit. A big shout out to Kelly “Gonzo” Perry for putting the map together for us. Be sure to say thank you when you see him this year. Did I mention, he works for donuts 🤗🍩.
If you are riding from California to DC, please take advantage of our Pre-Paid fuel program. This has been discussed in previous newsletters. The QR code on the attached flyer will take you directly to the link where you may purchase pre-paid fuel. The pre-paid fuel program will get us through the gas line much quicker and provide for longer KSD rest stops. Beats sitting in a gas line, waiting for your turn to fuel.
A segment of every morning meeting is fundraising. This is done through the 50/50 raffle and item raffle. This year we’re looking for un-used or donated gift cards to raffle at morning meetings. Please consider bringing gift cards to donate to our morning raffle fundraising. The funds are used in part to purchase fuel for the chase vehicles and medical vehicles. Just knowing the chase vehicles and medical staff are with us provides a level of comfort, safety and security. Please help us pay for this service.
We are still looking for volunteers for the staging team and platoon leadership. If you have ridden with RFTW before, please consider volunteering.
Public Service Reminder – Registration price increase takes effect on January 31, 2023. REGISTER FOR THE RUN TODAY!!!
The Southern Route hotel list was posted January 1, 2023. A big shout out to the state coordinators who worked to get the hotel lists to Assistant Route Coordinator, Michelle “Stonewall” Phelan so she could have it posted on the web. It’s not always easy to be working on tasks so far before the run takes place. It takes commitment and fortitude to get the hotel list done way before most riders haven’t even decided if they’re going. A big thank you to Stonewall, for staying on top of all the details. Be sure to say thank her when you see her this year. Did I mention Stonewall works for beads and trinkets 🤗
Southern Route Leadership team is meeting monthly to plan a safe, memorable ride for 2023. The first draft of the itinerary is done, the hotel list is done, many leadership teams are fully staffed. The Southern Route is well planned. During the next few months, we will continue to fine tune the details. The 100 plus Southern Route Volunteers are committed to making the XXXIII Run a great experience.
Is it May yet?
Kristine “Eyes” Wood
Southern Route Coordinator