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Day 09. Asheville, NC to Smithfield, NC. 307 miles.

With all that we do, do we make a difference?

Todays SITREP is going to be shorter than usual.  Not because we did less today, but because a theme for the day presented itself as soon as our morning meeting began.  I am going to let these stories tell themselves.

Story Number One:  My roommate this year is a tall, thin, extremely likable fellow named Tim.  We have gotten along very well, and I wish I had met him years ago.  One evening after our riding was over for the day, he casually mentioned that he had beaten a cancer diagnosis.  That was very good news!  He credited one of our Chaplains with his recovery, by offering prayers and encouragement to him.

The next evening, he mentioned that he had his own outreach mission to perform the next day.  Since he is on the Staging Crew, I assumed that his Team were all going on a special program.

This morning, one of the Chaplains casually mentioned that they (the Chaplains) had a large group of people that were going to be standing on an overpass with flags to cheer us along.  Would I like to go visit with them and get some pictures?  Sure!  As the pack began to move out this morning, I rode up behind the Chaplain Corps, only to find myself riding next to my roommate Tim.  Cool!  I finally get to ride with him!  But I wondered why he was there.

About an hour later we arrive at the designated overpass, and sure enough, there are a bunch of people gathered there.  They happen to be from our Chaplains church.  As we dismounted our bikes, our Chaplain announces to the crowd that “This is Tim!  The recipient of our very first Prayer Quilt!”

The pieces of this strange puzzle fell into place.  Through some strange, round-about way, I was present when a new Friend met the Church Group that prayed over him, encouraged him to keep up the fight, offered to help in any way that they could, and that covered him, literally, with prayers.

Tim credits their support and friendship with his remarkable recovery!

Story Number Two:  At our morning meeting a few days ago, one of our Ambassadors told the story of visiting a Veterans Home in Tennessee.  The entire Ambassador Team (all 8 of them) spent about an hour trying to visit each of the Veterans that lived there.  He was heartbroken when he found a 92-yeear old highly decorated Vietnam Veteran lying in his room all alone.  As our Ambassador talked with him, he discovered that this Veteran had not had a single visitor in over a year and a half!  He was so grateful for the brief visit that he sat up as best he could and feebly gave a salute.  Our Ambassador left in tears, and still wells up when he mentions this encounter.

Story Number Three: Our own dear Sarah took to the microphone this morning to Thank all of the Riders that visited a specific VA Hospital during our Outreach Day in Cookeville.  She told of a deaf elderly Man that has no visitors other than family.  After all, he is hard to communicate with.  She said that he felt so special that day.  His entire Family wanted to extend their Thanks to our Riders for their considerate visit.  That deaf Veteran is her Uncle!

Story Number Four:  You may remember that I wrote about our visit to Wilson Elementary School.  The Midway Route made a small financial donation to help support these kids.  Some of these kids live in homes with dirt floors.  Some do not have running water.  Some wear only hand-me-down clothing.  Some go home hungry at night.   We gave them school supplies, t-shirts, and some money.

Story Number Five: This afternoon we visited the Falcon Childrens School.  This is an orphanage that houses and educates poor, neglected, and/or abandoned children, giving them love and security.  The Midway Route has been a supporter of the school for five years now.  Today, we gave each graduating Senior a gift certificate.  For many of them, this is the largest amount of money that they have ever had all to themselves.  We offer them encouragement and a pledge of support.  We are extremely proud of what they have accomplished, and the attitude that they all have for their own future.

Story Number Six:  While at the Falcon School, one of our own Riders (“Pockets”) told how his daughter had taken her own life a few years ago.  He proceeded to tell the students in the room how much each one of them mattered.  Not just to their educators, not just to their friends, not just to us, but that they mattered to our society.  He then announced that he was giving scholarships to each of the graduating Seniors, in his daughters name.  (There wasn’t a dry eye in the room!)

Does what we do make a difference?  We honor our Veterans.  We visit the sickly, the poor, the “forgotten.”  We offer “small change” from our wallets.  We give little gifts.  We talk to strangers.

But to the people that we interact with, we bring hope.  We bring understanding.  We show our love and support for those that have sacrificed so much for us.  We encourage young people to follow their dreams, and show them that they CAN follow those dreams.  We give children the tools they need to get an education so that they can make a better life for themselves.  We put new clothes on the backs of people that may not have had a new shirt in years.  And we send a child home with a full belly.

Yes.  What we do matters.  We change lives.  But don’t take my word for it.  Read Story Number Seven:

This one comes directly from a former Midway Route Rider, the Daughter of our own “Big Bopper.”  She writes:

Hello Midway Route! Some of you may remember me from last year. Some of you may not. I was the short, bald girl that loved signing patriotic songs.

For those that don’t know my story, six years ago I was given a stage IV breast cancer diagnosis with a life expectancy of less than a year. Apparently God had other plans for me though and I just kept on living. Then, in January of last year, four months before the 2022 ride, the cancer had spread greatly through my brain and the doctors felt that I had about a month left on my ticket. So what did my dad do…. he signed me up for a motorcycle trip that was scheduled in May… and, somehow, by the grace of God, I lived long enough to join you all as an FNG.

I can’t adequately express what this ride meant to me. I was so nervous joining. I had ridden on the back of a motorcycle for a grand total of maybe eight hours in my entire life. I knew nothing of the culture or the schedule or what to expect. But even if I had known what to expect, I wouldn’t have been prepared for what I experienced.

The love and acceptance that you all showed me from the moment I joined was beyond anything I could have imagined. You embraced me with hugs, love, prayers, chaps, neck warmers, and rain gear. You made me feel like I was truly part of what you were doing… and what you were doing was truly something spectacular!

You will never know what a difference you made in my life. That week I felt like I was part of something much bigger than myself and my problems. I forgot about the cancer for the first time since I’d been diagnosed. Life’s worries melted away as I focused on the mission. I loved every moment of the journey and every one of you that was on it.

A year has passed since that glorious ride, and now RFTW 2023 is en route. I’m not able to join you this year, but I am grateful to report that I am still alive and well. According to the University of Michigan Cancer Center, I am a “medical anomaly”. But we all know that it is so much more than that.

Thank you for loving me and accepting me. Thank you for including me on your ride and in your lives. And thank you for praying for me. I have no doubt that it is through your prayers and those of the saints and the faithful that I am still on the top side of the grass.

Until we meet again, I pray that God blesses you, keeps you, and makes His glorious face shine upon you.

Much love,


P.S. I’m happy to report that my wild, curly hair finally grew back!


What I have submitted this evening is such a small sampling of what we have been doing everyday for the past nine days.  These are just a few of the hundreds of stories that we hear during the Run.  I wonder how many we do NOT hear?  I am so proud of our Midway Riders, and all of the Riders from the other Routes as well, because I know that these things we do aren’t just a once-a-year occurrence.  I see the goodness in our Riders hearts.  I know of the countless hours of volunteer work that they do throughout the year.  I know of the charities that they support year round.  I know that they care for their Brothers and Sisters, their comrades in arms, and the Families of their Heroes.  They “walk the talk” and will leave no Man behind.  They make a difference in the lives of the people they touch, both their physical and emotional needs.

As “Pockets” and I were standing in the hotel lobby, getting ready to turn in for the night, I offered my condolences for his daughter.  We talked a bit of different tragedies that had befallen both our Families, and how helpless we felt not preventing them.  He did not know the theme of todays SITREP.  But as we ended our conversation, he said with a sad smile “We do whatever we can.  We make a difference.”

This is Run For The Wall.  This is what we do.

Jim “Hoofer” McCrain
Midway Route Photographer and SITREP Author

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