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.
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 [email protected] 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!
Les “Easy” Williams
Run for The Wall Board of Directors