Greetings RFTW Midway family!
After 7033 miles, “High Maintenance” and I made it back home to south Louisiana. Stayed dry the entire trip until rain finally got us about 5 minutes from home. God has a great sense of humor!
What can I say about RFTW XXXII Midway route? Well, after two years of cancellations and countless obstacles to overcome, WE pulled off an amazing run. I am so proud of our leadership team and our riders. So many changes with new stops and so many people new to leadership and support positions, not to mention a lot of FNGs! We lost our ARC, Jerry “Corp” Wilkins, to illness and our Mentor, Glenn “Wombat” Waggoner, who was taking care of Jerry. I want to thank Glenn and his wife Laurie for driving Jerry back to his home in California. We missed you all very much. I am happy to say that Jerry is doing well and back at work. What we lacked in experience, we made up in teamwork.
I am so happy to say that we completed our mission without any accidents! Although it was not perfect, the emphasis we made on riding techniques and doing our best to minimize the “rubber banding” was a contributing factor for our safety. Each day got better, and I feel confident that the future leaders of Midway will continue to focus on this to make sure our route is run as safely as possible.
Our RFTW mission was always our focus and the new additions of the patriotic music to announce the time for our morning meetings was received well and set the tone from them beginning. The “Missing Man Honor Mat” gave new emphasis to the missing man formation and made it personal by the pictures and stories that everyone could see and know who was being ridden for each leg of the run. The flag carried across the country by FNGs made the FNGs feel a part of the family from the start and was ceremonially transferred at the missing man formation at each stop.
The morning recognition of all the families and individuals that have served and sacrificed for our country is always a humbling moment. We had so much talent this year on Midway that we just had to show off this talent by singing the National Anthem. Siren, Quiet-1 and Snax, you all did a great job. We had a FNG flautist play amazing grace and all the military branch songs. We had “Curly” sign songs for us. And let us not forget, the morning readings of the BIOs. This is why we ride, and we will never forget!
The culture established on Midway is something special. It all starts with a philosophy of “servant leadership’. Thank you to all the team leaders and support positions. You all put mission before self and served our mission and riders well. Our mission is to help those individuals and family members who need healing and support. You did that! I, once again, witnessed what I call “Run for the Wall Miracles.” This mission can have life changing, positive, effects on people’s lives. I personally know a couple of people whose life was changed for the good because of our RFTW run this year. It happens every year! The family culture was alive and well. We welcomed the FNGs with hugs every day. I want to thank all the FNGs for joining us and being such an important part of our run. Welcome to the family! FNGs are the life of RFTW. Without FNGs, the mission cannot continue. You all did a great job and I hope you all will return next year. Our Canadian FNG friends told me that they could not get over how well they were received and welcomed into the RFTW family. They had never experienced anything like it. They are planning on coming back and bringing more with them! I am looking forward to that.
I want to thank everyone for being such good ambassadors for RFTW. You were all very kind, respectful, courteous and polite. We had to start to rebuild Midway this year and you made a great impression on the people who supported and hosted us. Even when we had the disaster at the hotel and they did not have rooms ready, you all represented RFTW well. The hotel manager even commented on what a good group we had. This is what it means to be a good ambassador for RFTW and putting mission before self. I could not have been prouder of this group.
I also want to thank all the State Coordinators. These people and their assistants have been working for years to make this 10 day experience happen for us. Great job of adapting and overcoming! Thank you so much!
I want to give a special thank you to our ARC, Jerry “Corp” Wilkins and our RGC, Rick “Taildragger” Schultz. These guys stuck with me for years to make RFTW XXXII Midway happen. We couldn’t have done it without y’all!
Well, my time is almost up as RC for Midway. It has been such an honor for me to lead such a great group of people. It will be a memory that I will never forget. The RFTW mission and friendships made will always be special to me. I hope I represented all of you and our mission well. It has been an honor and privilege to serve you. Thank you for all the love and support.
Have I told you lately?……………………I love my RFTW Midway Family!
Honor, Hope & Healing,
Ken ‘Six String” Dugas
RFTW Midway Route Coordinator, 2020-2022