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CR Day 5: Gold Stars

Day 5 started under strange skies and cool weather. Smoke from Canadian wildfires gave the sky an eerie feel. Unexpectedly, there was little wind until we departed our lunch stop, then it tried to make up for lost time by lashing the pack with crosswinds. Our Route Coordinator issued the hand signal for us to ride staggered and we stayed that way until our last leg from Bunker Hill to Junction City.

Breakfast was once again provided at the Limon school where volunteers started their day extremely early to support our riders.  With a hearty breakfast in our bellies and thoughts of the mission ahead, we left Limon behind us until next year intent on reconnecting with friends of the RFTW in Oakley and Junction City.

This year the organizers in Oakley coordinated donations and labor from about forty different businesses to provide lunch for our riders and to setup/tear down the venue.  A hearty “thank you” to each of those businesses and employees who gave willingly of their time and resources.  We are better for having experienced your hospitality.

A new addition to our visit this year was the GoldStars Tribute Wall. Per their website, “The GoldStars Tribute Wall exists to Honor the fallen while serving in the United States military from the beginning of the Gulf War through the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.”  The presentation is impressive in its size and very well conveys the weight of loss the country has experienced since the beginning of the Gulf War.  It was a privilege for the Run For The Wall to experience this tribute as part of our mission.

During our 2022 visit to Oakley a number of riders met the Kuhlman family anchored by 97-year-old WWII Nurse Mildred Kuhlman and her veteran son Ron Kuhlman and his wife Raye, who is also a veteran. Those same riders, me included, were anticipating our arrival in Oakley so we could once again check in on the Kuhlman family. It is with great sadness that I report that Ron Kuhlman passed on February 4th, 2023 and his mother Mildred passed on May 4th, 2023. These two veterans leave behind a legacy family counting 193 in number. Raye, your Run For The Wall family mourns this loss with you but we rest in the fact that you are surrounded by a great number of family members who enthusiastically support you.

With a five-minute warning sounded by rifle volley, the pack mounted up and departed for a parade through Russell KS to honor POW, Senator, and Presidential Candidate Bob Dole then gassed at Bunker Hill where we were met with enthusiasm by a number of families, the VFW, and other supporters.  Children offered riders Chapstick and warm smiles.

Arrival in Junction City is always spectacular. There are no words to accurately describe the feeling of riding through a corridor comprised of three hundred US Flags all carried by volunteers spurring us on. Rain inside one’s helmet is nearly impossible to hold back. Thank you, Junction City, for such an amazing welcome.

After the pack’s arrival, a ceremony was held at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial where Kansas State Representative COL (RET) Pat Proctor gave the keynote address. A Broken Spoke Wreath was laid and Taps was played.  At the conclusion of the ceremonies, a ham dinner was served by the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

City Cycle Sales Harley-Davidson opened from 4:00 – 8:00 today just to help riders with whatever needs they might have. I ventured over to their shop to see if they could solve a CB issue. There were a number of other riders present getting emergency repairs or scheduled maintenance.  Thank you City Cycle Sales for opening on a Sunday just to take care of Run For The Wall.

This day is an incredibly long day for the riders, but it feels shorter than it is because the welcome in Junction City is very uplifting and the hospitality in Oakley is offered through genuine kindness. There is more to come for the Central Route as we navigate the remainder of our mission. Tonight we are grateful for all that has occurred and the people who have shown us tremendous kindness.

The images today range from the different places and events of the day to a number of shots of overpasses. From the onset, overpass after overpass was populated with patriots encouraging us on. Wow, those signs, flags, and cheers really help on long flat roadways. Thank you for coming out to support us.  The video below is my point of view entering Junction City.

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