Howdy from Texas!
Now that we’re in the new year, we all more and more often hear and say, “Is it May yet?” For RFTW Riders like me, hearing that phrase always invokes a sense of excitement for what lies ahead, and I instantly have thoughts of saddling up for a ride to Ontario! For the past several years, those three days in Ontario have been filled with detailed briefings and serious preparation for the Run. But the part of those three days that always stand out as memorable are the mini-reunions taking place at every curbside in the parking lot and in every hallway of the conference center. I think back to my first PL year with the Looney Toons crew leading Southern Route’s 3rd Platoon – Bugs, Sidewinder, Roadrunner, Coyote and Chaps. Next was leading 1st Platoon with COB, Hollywood, Idaho and Chaps again. Then on to riding as ARC with Slacker and as RC with Captain America along with the outstanding leadership teams and riders that made it all happen. Every one of those encounters and many more represent a family relationship that is a potential reunion in May. Just today I wrote to a friend of mine that, “…the bonds of brotherhood remain stronger than the space and time between us.” That is so true for our RFTW Family. Remember that all roads lead to all roads and that regardless of where you are or when you ride, there is likely someone else you know out there riding too. TOGETHER WE RIDE!
What is service? What does it mean to you? Can one serve this country without being in uniform? Ask the Navy wife who holding a small child while standing on the pier waving at the giant grey boat taking away her husband. Ask the Husband who keeps the kids going to school every day, explaining to them at night why Mommy must be overseas with her Army unit. Ask the RFTW Rider whose child has been in uniform overseas or that rider whose patriotic sense of duty leads them to this family to give something back. Yes, those people serve – and thousands like them do so every day. Service is more than an action when inspired from the heart. For many of us, Service is a state of being or a fulfilling purpose when selflessly directed toward those whom we care about. I am truly humbled to be counted among all the amazing people who Serve the great Mission of Run For The Wall. Whether you wear sleeves and a colored hat, or you are an FNG riding in a platoon, there are times that each of us NEEDS to serve and there are those difficult times when we may need to BE served. The wonderful thing about family is that either way, the Service continues, and we stand strong together.
New Year / New Route
As I write this Newsletter, we are 114 days away from Kick Stands Up on the Inaugural Run of the SandBox Route. Interest in participation with the SandBox Route has been very high and extremely positive. The execution of our Mission over the years has cast a wide net of support as we seek to not only raise awareness for the travesty of those left behind overseas, but to support those who came home and the family and friends of those who didn’t. The fact that the RTFW can focus that Mission through SandBox Route onto our recent era veterans and their family & friends with NO revision to its purpose speaks to the timelessness of its goals. We need ALL our RFTW Family with a heart to support that mission involved in making it successful. To that end, I have directed the RFTW Registrar to add all those currently on the Standby List to be added onto the SandBox Route. If you have already requested and been granted entry onto the list, you should be receiving notification soon that your “Ride to” has been changed to Marseilles. You’ll then be contacted by our Platoon Coordinator, Paul “G-Rex” Steigleder for your Platoon assignment. The Standby List has been active for three months and will remain in place in case others want to sign up, but as of now the list is empty. For instructions about getting on the next round of the Standby List, see the November 2019 SandBox RC Newsletter at this link: SPECIAL REGISTRATION EDITION #3 – 08 NOV 2019
SandBox Route Patches
Some folks have been asking about the SandBox Route Tab patch. You should see now that the Route patch is available at the RFTW store on line at rftw.us under the “Shop” tab. It’s properly designed with the SandBox colors and will make a great addition to your vest or chaps. There will also be an “All The Way” patch available in the trailer after we pull out of DC that will complement it nicely. Also… I have been working on a SandBox Route Inaugural Run commemorative patch that will be sold as a fundraiser for the Route. The design is at the factory now and I expect the patches will go into production soon. When the sample is available, it will be published, and we’ll start taking pre-orders.
Are you Ready?
I sincerely doubt any of us would answer “No” to that question, but let’s break it down to the basic issues that we all need to consider before getting on the road in May…
- Mechanical Condition – Be sure your bike is in good condition for a 1000 (or more) mile ride. Although our Route is planned at just over 800 miles, those of us who ride one of the legacy routes from Ontario may have put as much as 6000 miles on the bike before we even leave DC on May 24th. Tires, oil change, and scheduled servicing may be available somewhere along the way but doing it during our short 3 days of the Run will take away valuable time you would otherwise have available for the Mission.
- Physical Condition – The Run always includes long, hot, cold, dry, wet, misty, tiring, enjoyable days on the road. Be sure that your mortal engine is ready for the long haul as well. Some simple daily activity, exercise or walks will pay off well in keeping you awake, alert and safe on the road. Our Hydration Support crew works very hard to ensure there will ALWAYS be water available for you to pick up between segments of the Route. Some people start hydrating early so they get used to holding more water – your choice, but regardless of conditions, be prepared to drink a lot of water along the way!
- Mental Condition – I’ve written a lot in the past about PMA – Positive Mental Attitude. Keeping that in mind, we all bring our own ideas and expectations for what the Run will mean to us and what we would like to get out of it. Be positive, talk positive and share positive with others. For me, this positively incredible event is a family reunion with a purpose and a Mission Statement of Healing, Accounting, Honor and Support and I ALWAYS have high expectations!
Congratulations to our Founder, GySgt James “Gunny” Gregory, USMC(Ret) on his selection to the South Carolina Biker Hall of Fame! Gunny’s outstanding contributions and leadership for our biker and veteran communities are legendary and enduring. Every time we put on that RFTW vest, we represent a Mission that was created to directly support the return of our missing service members and the well being of their families. Gunny’s legacy will soon be enshrined in that Hall of Fame, but his Mission continues. So, congratulations again to my Brother and Mentor, Gunny! See you in Ontario!
Very best regards,
Billie “Bugs” Dunlap
SandBox Route Coordinator
Run For The Wall XXXII