After we arrive in Washington, D.C. and visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall), we offer a fourth Route, the "Sandbox Route", that goes "Wall to Wall" from DC to the Middle East Conflicts wall in Marseilles, IL
Register for 2022
May 18-28, 2022 - CA to DC
May 29 - May 31, 2022 - Sandbox
Run for The Wall® is an annual motorcycle ride from California to Washington DC.
Here we are recovering from a hot but dry 2200+ mile round trip to New Mexico. In the middle was an Awesome RFTW Angel Fire Reunion. The planning was perfect, the weather was Cinderella, just right. Hats off to the Central Route organizers. Thanks to the hard work and preparation, we were able to place over 800 commemorative bricks along the pathways. That number is twice the normal. Bravo Zulu to ALL. More proof that Teamwork Makes the Dream Work. It was nice to see many Southern and Midway Riders in attendance. If you haven’t already, pencil next Labor Day weekend for Angel Fire on your calendar.
Now it’s time to clean everything up to get ready for the RFTW TX Riders Reunion in Kerrville. Looks like some GREAT RIDES are planned and Good Eats. I hope to see All Y’all there. It’s not too late.
But before that there is one more thing to do. Saturday morning September 11, 2021, RFTW 2022 Registration opens. This day marks 20 years since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center Twin Towers, the Pentagon; and the day the passengers of Flight 93 sacrificed their lives to save unknown others. I don’t care if it has been 1, 5, 10, 20 or 50 years; that day and those images are burned into my mind. I can Never Forget. I’m sure that I am not alone.
We Ride For Those Who Can’t…… to Honor Our Fallen, Remember Their Sacrifice.
Until we ride again. Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Positive.
Today is September 10th. Tomorrow marks the 20th Anniversary of one of the darkest days in our nation’s history. While we pause to reflect on the events of that tragic day and remember those who were lost, let us also remember the nation’s transformation on 9/12, when we put aside our differences and truly became one people united in a common cause.
In keeping with that theme, Run For The Wall® will open registration for RFTW XXXII on September 11th at 08:46 EDT, the exact moment American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Because we cleared all previous registrations for the past two years, everyone who plans to make the Run in 2022 must register anew. When you log on to do so, you will find that the registration process has been greatly streamlined. Thanks to the hard work of Ron “Sky” King, our Director of Risk Management, and Ted “Boots” Kapner, our Director of Public Relations and Media Communications, the process has been greatly simplified and will be entirely “paperless.” Please be aware that after you complete the payment process for your registration, you will need to return to the registration page and complete the waiver of liability before you exit the site. Your registration cannot be completed without this step.
This leads us to what I am sure is the most pressing question on all of your minds: Will we be able to conduct the Run next May? Let me assure you that the Board of Directors is absolutely committed to carrying out our mission in 2022. Planning for all of our routes has been underway since before our Face-To-Face meeting in July, and will continue as usual in the months leading up to next May.
Having said that, we must all recognize that COVID-19 presents many factors that are beyond our control, and we have no way of knowing what conditions may exist across the country when the time comes. One of the core principles Run For The Wall® has always embraced is that we respect and abide by the laws and customs of the states and communities through which we ride, and we have a responsibility to follow that principle when it comes to COVID restrictions. In the event that circumstances again work against us, the BoD has asked all of our Route Coordinators to prepare contingency plans for alternative activities. They will be presenting these plans to the Board at our November meeting.
In other news, Central Route held their reunion and service project at the New Mexico Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Angel Fire over the Labor Day weekend. I was fortunate to be able to attend and the turnout was fantastic. The David Westphal Foundation raises money for the Memorial through the sale of bricks that commemorate the service of veterans, both past and present. These bricks line the sidewalks of the memorial, and each year Central Route riders emplace that year’s collection. Because the event could not be held last year, there were two years’ worth of bricks this year… over 850 of them! But in true RFTW fashion, our riders got the mission accomplished for another year, and in record time.
Finally, I’m happy to report that our fundraiser to benefit Homes For Our Troops was a complete success. We met our goal of raising $25,000 from our ridership, thanks to the generosity of so many of you. That amount was matched by the RFTW Board of Directors for a total of $50,000, which was in turn matched dollar-for-dollar by the Operation Family Fund, a non-profit foundation dedicated to helping veterans of our current conflicts. On August 28th, Homes For Our Troops received a check from “Run For The Wall® in partnership with Operation Family Fund,” for $100,000! In the coming months, we will be working closely with HFOT to ensure that RFTW/OFF have a presence at the presentation ceremonies for several veterans receiving homes funded in part by this donation.
Is it May, yet?
Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme
RFTW Board of Directors
My newsletters typically attempt at light discussion of personal observation or discussion for which we all may have an interest. However, as I write this newsletter, there’s not much levity I can think of. As a Veteran of multiple SandBox Era operations dating back to 1991, my thoughts are with those fellow Veterans, Patriots and families who watch as the product of our efforts and sacrifices appear to evaporate in the wind. I know that many are hurting and don’t know where to place those feelings that may not have risen in a long time. But the consequences of our government’s inability to learn from history do not negate or even diminish your efforts and sacrifice. You made a difference! You are someone’s vision of an American! You lit a spark that may someday grow to a flame of courage in young people who may learn to understand what freedom really means as many of them will now see it from the wrong side of the fence.
A very good friend and neighbor here in Texas writes a daily blog. With his permission, I’d like to share his entry from 24 August:
Consider this…of great hope and great disappointment
I wish there was always some reward equivalent to the sacrifice, but in life that’s not always true. What I’ve come to learn is that we are left with intent. Intent doesn’t keep score. Intent is a direction not the destination; it’s aspirational. Trying to do the right thing is more admirable than doing the wrong thing or doing nothing.
A friend of mine remarked that the reason I’m a good executive coach (it presupposes that I am) is that I don’t get my feelings hurt when people don’t do what I expect. It’s about the intent for me. I can’t control the outcome, only my input. Every parent knows that feeling.
And so it is with Afghanistan. After 20 years we’ve given it our best effort at giving another country what we have. The good intent was there. You can’t give people something they don’t understand or can’t appreciate. Democracy is simple but incredibly complex, it’s subtle but in your face.
Oh, I understand why we went there, but it’s not why we stayed.
For those that went, sacrificed and those that didn’t come back, thank you and yours! Incrementally, the world is a better place because of the sacrifices you made and the intentions you took with you.
The author of that entry is Ken Davis, an Air Force Veteran who always provides sage advice, tremendous insight and “Cowboy Logic” for difficult and complex issues. Thanks Ken, for allowing me to share your words with my RFTW Family.
I hope and pray that all my SandBox Era family are finding the support, comfort, and guidance they need as this volatile situation continues to unfold – MG Chris Donahue’s lifting his boot off the ramp may mean we’re out of the country, but this is far from over. Remember that the greatest successes with the most lasting value are those achieved with personal relationships – those you developed during your service and those with extended family members who now surround you. You are never alone and you won’t be left behind.
Before I close, one bit of business… In just a few minutes, I will be sending out a Registration Process update to all SandBox Riders who were previously registered and those who were on the Standby List. If you believe you were Registered or on Standby for the 2021 SandBox Route and you don’t see an e-mail from SB-Registration@rftw.us with the subject line “2022 SandBox Route Registration Plan”, please send an e-mail to that address and let me know.
Remember, all roads lead to all roads so no matter where you go, TOGETHER WE RIDE!
I am sad to have to report that we have lost another RFTW & Southern Route Rider, CVMA Brother, Leader and Friend. Jim “Taillight” Drieth. Taillight passed away on 7/31, he was a long-time member of our Southern Route Advance Team. Rest In Peace Brother, you will be Missed, but Not Forgotten.
Between the pandemic restriction, 100+ degree temps and the smoke from wildfires, it is hard to get any serious riding in. I see via Facebook that many of you have found ways to overcome, That’s Great. We need to keep our riding skills sharp, so ride when you can.
The details for the Angel Fire and TX Riders Reunions have been published. Confetti and I are hoping to see many of you there.
The Homes For Our Troops donations are in. With the $50k matching donation from the Operation Family Foundation we have raised over $100,000. These monies will be spread over several deserving Disabled Veterans to build homes adapted for their specific needs. There will be more information forthcoming. Also, there will be opportunities for us to participate in presentations at each home across the country. They are in states where the majority of our riders live. Just another reason to get together for an Awesome cause.
We have challenges ahead of us planning for the Run in 2022. The pandemic restrictions which caused us to postpone RFTW XXXII, are ever changing and impossible to predict. All 4 Route Coordinators, along with their leadership and the RFTW Board of Directors are fully committed to the Mission. “What can we do?”, you ask. I urge all of you to consult with your doctor to consider getting vaccinated. It may be the best thing for the greater good.
Just a reminder, Registration opens on September 11, 2021. Everyone needs to register. The registration process will be fully automated to make it easier and more efficient.
Greetings from California’s beautiful Carpinteria State Beach! I hope this finds you all healthy and well. I just returned from Denver, Colorado, where I attended an RFTW face-to-face board meeting. The good news is that preparations are well underway for all four routes for our 2022 run. This was the first meeting with five new board members. They may be new to the board, but all have been in various leadership positions on all three routes for many years.
One of the topics for discussion was a new streamlined registration that is slated to go online by 9/11/21. Keep in mind that regardless of whether you registered for the last two cancelled runs, you will still will need to register for 2021. A thirty dollar fee will be due at the time you register. Keep in mind that this fee buys a lot of meals and gas and pays for our “event” insurance. I recommend that you register as early as possible to help our state coordinators’ planning efforts. The first question every supporting organization along the way asks is how many riders we expect.
Due to the generosity of an anonymous donor, Saturday night dinner is paid in full! So far over 100 people have registered. We are still looking for people with brick-laying experience. If you’ve never been on the run, you are still welcome to join us. It will be a good opportunity to meet the RFTW family and to be of service to veterans. This memorial site is breathtakingly beautiful in the mountains outside of Taos. I hope to see you there.
It is with a heavy heart that I pass on the news that RFTW’s beloved chaplain, Rupert Harrell, passed away due to cancer and the effects of Agent Orange. Many of you may not know that Rupert made it his mission to work with fellow Viet Nam veterans, even escorting some back to Viet Nam to facilitate their healing. Rupert was proud of his service with the 101st Airborne, and was the recipient of two bronze starts and two purple hearts. In every sense of the word, Rupert was a true hero. He was my friend, and I will miss him.
Stay Safe. God Bless the United States of America.
As you know, Run For The Wall has been conducting a fundraiser the last few months to support Homes For Our Troops. This organization provides, free of charge, homes specially adapted to the needs of severely wounded veterans. The Board of Directors felt that this would be an appropriate and worthwhile way to carry out our mission this year, even though we were unable to complete our Run due to COVID-19 restrictions. Our goal was to raise $25,000 in donations from our ridership, and others who who support our cause and mission. The Board committed to matching those donations on a dollar-for-dollar basis with unused funds from the previous two years’ registrations, up to a total of $50,000. That amount will, in turn, be matched by another foundation for a total of $100,000 to be donated to HFOT in Run For The Wall’s name.
As of July 12th, we had raised $11,225. I am delighted to report that yesterday, July 13th, our Treasurer, Jenny Ward, received a check from a donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, in the amount of $13,000! In the accompanying letter, this incredibly generous person simply said, “The reason for this donation (is) two-fold: We’d like to see that RFTW is responsible for giving $100k toward a home or homes. The PR, hopefully, will show the country that we’re still serious about our mission — the Vets. And we feel that the BOD should do something benevolent with the registration monies from two years …”
This puts us $775 away from our goal, and we have already received assurances from several folks that this shortfall will be covered.
Miracles still happen!
Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme
President, RFTW Board of Directors “Freedom Isn’t Free”
I hope you all had a great Independence Day holiday. I sure did. I had a pleasant visit from our old friends Mark “Diesel” Breland and Daryl “Top” Neil and their better halves Charlene and Kathy. It was a great time hanging out at the pool with these two past Route Coordinators and great RFTW supporters. I am so ready to get our RFTW family back together for 2022!
With that said, we must get our leadership and support teams built for 2022. I sent emails out to everyone I had on our list for 2021 asking to reply if you have plans to return in 2022. Unfortunately, I did not get many replies. It is important that we know ASAP if you will, or will not be returning for 2022. I know that it is still a long time till next May but our plans require work all year long. It is okay if you cannot give a definitive answer at this time but, if that is the case, please let me know that so we can put you down as questionable. Letting me or your team leader know ASAP would be very helpful and greatly appreciated. I do hope you all can return to our team.
Our Tennessee State and Assistant Coordinators, along with about a dozen other RFTW riders decided to ride the July 4th reunion route that was cancelled. As always, Cookeville was very supportive and happy to see them. They were given VIP seating for the BIG fireworks show and they all had a great time.
The new stop that we had planned for the reunion was at the Sunbright Veteran’s Memorial. The group went there and were greeted by the founder, Vietnam veteran, Charles Webb and his wife JoAnn. The group presented them a Flag donated by TN. US. Representative John Rose, with the certificate showing that it was flown over the US Capital in honor of RFTW to present to Sunbright Veterans Memorial. It took 10 years for this small town to build the memorial. I was told that they were so happy to see representatives from RFTW there, that it brought tears to their eyes. The riders were very impressed with this stop. Plans are being worked on to see if we can incorporate this memorial as a breakout from Cookeville. We shall see…..
It is with a heavy heart that I tell you that we recently lost two of our RFTW family members. Joel “Polar Bear” Brown, our NM Assistant State Coordinator and Jeff “Breeze” Starks, former Ambassador leader. Please keep them and their family in your prayers. They will be missed.
On a positive note, Will Schaeffler, son of Southern Route’s Arizona State Coordinator, Lori Ann “Leggs” Schaeffler, was in a horrible accident and his survival was in doubt. Fortunately, Will is doing better. The Road to Recovery will be a long one. Bills still need to be paid and his home will need some modifications to assist his rehab once he is allowed to go home. If you would like to help Will’s Family, Lori said you can send donations directly to her. There are two ways: Zelle to firstname.lastname@example.org or Apple Pay to 520-490-7612. Any amount will make a difference.
Have I told you lately?……………………….I love my RFTW family! Is it May yet?
It has been about a month since I asked all of our RFTW Prayer Warriors to direct the Awesome Power of Prayer to comfort and heal Will Schaeffler after a terrible motorcycle accident. Will is the son of our Arizona State Coordinator Lori Ann “Leggs” and Bill “Jumper” Schaeffler. At that time, his survival was in doubt due to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). By the Grace of God and the expertise of stellar Medical Staff, he is on the mend. He is still dealing with the effects from the TBI. The Road to Recovery will be a long one. Bills and other payments still need to be paid and his home will need some modifications to assist his rehab once he is allowed to go home. It is too early to say when that might be.
There is a fundraiser for William tonight, July 8th, starting @ 9PM – ?? at “Cowpony” located at 6510 E Tanque Verde Rd in Tucson AZ. If you cannot attend and would like to help Will’s Family, Lori said you can send donations directly to her. There are 2 ways: Zelle to email@example.com or Apple Pay to 520-490-7612. Any amount will make a difference. Thank You.
New Year – Fresh Start! If you’re like me, the new year begins after the Run as the countdown starts toward the next KSU in May. This year (as opposed to June 2020), I received a good dose of reunion as I was able to visit with many of the family along my travels to visit our SandBox Route Supporters along the way from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in DC to the Middle East Conflicts Wall in Marseilles. The bonus visit to Missouri’s National Veterans Memorial in Perryville was phenomenal not just because it is a beautiful Memorial, but it’s where I found so many of that family I haven’t seen in over two years. And that was just a taste of the epic reunion waiting for us next May when we finally all get together again.
Your SandBox Route Leadership has taken a well deserved break from my constant calls and contact for Route planning through the month of June – but next week we kick-off the full planning cycle once again to ensure that KSU in May 2022 is the best it can be. As always, You, the SandBox Route Rider/Participant/Volunteer/Leader/Supporter are all a part of that process and your Team Leads and I would like you to join us for my Supporter Run Debrief as we lay out the initial plan for the Inaugural Run of our SandBox Route.
Following are the details. I look forward to seeing you all there.
Hello Central Route Riders.
Greetings from sunny (and HOT) Southern California!
I know that even though our 2021 ride was cancelled, many of you, including myself, were able to get a couple of weeks riding in May/ June. Six other riders and I left California on June first and headed out to Perryville, Missouri. Most of you are likely already aware that a local farmer in the area, James M. Eddleman, donated a big chunk of money and forty-seven acres of his farm to build an exact replica of the Vietnam Wall in Perryville. The organization supporting it has the mission of supporting all of our service men and women and their families, and providing an environment of peaceful reflection. Everyone in my group was impressed and moved by the patriotism we saw in Perryville. See www.mnvn.org for more information on that memorial.
Good News! Angel Fire Service Project/Reunion for 2021 is ON! Although this event is hosted by Central Route, all routes are heartily invited to participate. As in the past, this event will take place over Labor Day weekend in Angel Fire, New Mexico. Since we were not able to meet last year, we have close to 800 bricks to lay in the path to honor vets. My understanding is that we are especially in need of younger volunteers with brick-laying experience! The guys that have been doing it for the last ten years are now in their seventies and aren’t getting up and down as easily as in the old days. No offense intended, old guys! I know all too well what I’m talking about! Start studying You-Tube clips on laying bricks and bring your knee pads, level, and rubber hammer. I also want to post that Kris (Tigger) Allen has posted some information under “Regional Gatherings” on our RFTW Forum. More information will be posted as soon as it is available, including registration and itinerary.
Enjoy the rest of the summer! I will check in from my camp host site at Carpinteria State Beach when I have more information in July.
Stay Safe. God Bless the United States of America.
Tom “Boomps” Miller